Friday, January 22, 2010

Ham Good

ham dinner, still hungry When my friend Craig called to tell me he had been given a 15-pound smoked ham from Heritage Foods for Christmas, we wasted no time in inviting some friends over to enjoy it.
Heritage Foods is one of the best sources to buy meat in this country. Started by Patrick Martins, who formerly ran Slow Food USA, Heritage promotes small family farms and genetic diversity and sells sustainably raised meats, poultry, goat and game, as well as charcuterie and Native American foods and cheeses. You can even trace where your meat came from on their Website.
ham dinner, still hungry To take our dinner party up a notch, we invited our friend Jodi, who is a great baker. She made an apple tart from Alice Waters’ cookbook as an homage to Alice, who had given Craig the ham. I thought, What better to go with ham than grits and collard greens? So I made a stop at the Santa Monica farmers' market for Flora Bella Farm, which has the best collard greens and escarole available right now. While I was there, I also picked up some persimmons, and when I got home made an escarole, persimmon and hazelnut salad.
As the ham was baking, the smells coming from my kitchen were so intoxicating that I was transported to memories of my childhood—having a Sunday lunch after church with my family. I decided to add a jar of June Taylor’s hand-cut Seville Orange Marmalade over the ham for the last hour it cooked.
ham dinner, still hungry The ham was spectacular. Seriously, I can’t remember the last time I have had a ham that good. The chunks of Seville orange peel were perfectly caramelized and crispy—the syrup created a lovely sauce. The collards, grits and ham were matched nicely. And the salad, with the perfectly ripe persimmons, crispy escarole and toasted hazelnuts was great. It’s now one of my favorite winter salads to make. In fact, I love it so much I'm going to post the recipe in my next blog.
ham dinner, still hungry Jodi’s apple tart was exquisite. We reheated it and served it with a combination of whipped cream with some crème fraîche whisked in. It was one of those magical meals that was so special I'm going to make it a tradition and repeat it again next year and the year after.


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