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
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.
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.
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.