Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Virginia ham, and related notes by Edna Lewis

In further pursuit of the illusive but enchanting Virginia ham as perfected by Edna Lewis (famed Southern cook, cookbook author, and native Virginian), please find the recipes referred to today at Blushing Hostess.

Virginia Ham (from raw cure state)
In Pursuit of Flavor, Edna Lewis
Serves 30, give or take

One 13 to 15 pound uncooked Virginia ham

Take the ham from the protective bag. If the ham has a moldy outer covering, scrub it brusquely under cold running water. when the moldy outer covering has been removed, rinse the ham well and put it in the pot. Cover it with cold water and leave it in a cool spot for three days. You do not have to refrigerate it. Change the water every day.

On the morning of the third day, drain off the soaking liquid and cover the ham again with clear, cold water. Put a lid on the pot and bring the water to a boil. Watch the pot closely and the minute the water nears to a boil, turn down the heat low enough that the water just shows a bubble. Cook the ham for approximately five hours, watching it to make sure the water does not get any hotter or cooler than this bubbling point. After 4 1/2 hours, lift the ham up out of the water to see if the skin is bubbled and soft. If not, let the ham cook until the ham is soft and bubbled and ready to be remove the ham from the cooking water.

Cool the ham in a shallow pan. When cool enough to handle, cut the skin off with a sharp knife. AS you remove the skin, trim a bit of fat but leave a thin coating of fat to help hold in moisture. An edge of fat looks nice on pieces of sliced ham.

Mustard with Brown Sugar
8 servings, will keep for one month refrigerated

5 tablespoons dry mustard
1/4 cup cider vinegar
5 tablespoons corn oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 firmly packed brown sugar

Combine all ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer and mix well for 4 or 5 minutes. Set the bowl in a pan of boiling water and cook over medium heat, stirring for 15 to 20 minutes, until all the graininess disappears. Spoon the mustard into a glass jar and let it cool. Screw the lid on the jar and store in the refrigerator for at least a week before using.

Country Ham with Baked Pineapple
Serves 4

Ms. Lewis served one large slice of country ham for this dish, I use many medium slices in the same preparation cooked in the over for 45 minutes.

One large slice of Virginia ham, 2" thick, cut from the center of the ham
1 tablespoon honey
4 tablespoons butter, softened
2 teaspoons dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon dry ginger
Four or five 1/2" thick slices fresh pineapple
1 cup water

Place the ham in a wide skillet and add enough water to cover. Bring to a near-simmer and cook for 30 minutes. Lift the ham from the water and pat dry - this is important, if you fail to do this, the end result of the dish will be ham sludge). Put the ham in a buttered baking dish and brush the top with honey. Combine the softened butter, mustard, and ginger in a bowl and paint the ham with this mixture. Lay the pineapple slices on top of the ham and add the water gently around the ham. Bake at 325 for 1 1/2 hours. Arrange the ham and pineapple slices on a platter and gently spoon the pan juices over.


BonjourRomance said...

I'll file these rcipes away right now, the mustard brown sugar looks delicious.
Bon Sunday!

Bailey said...

Hello -
I am a filmmaker in Atlanta. I just wanted to let you know I produced a 21 minute documentary about Miss Edna Lewis. The film is called "Fried Chicken and Sweet Potato Pie".

It is viewable in its entirety on Internet at a Gourmet Magazine website:

and at this Library of Virginia website:

My website,

has more information about the film and the story of Miss Lewis.

Bailey Barash

Agoura Antique Mart said...

Fab blog! Great post! So glad I found you throug Eddis Ross. Off to browse..Maria

Scott said...

One of my all time favorite things to eat. Wish I could have been your commis for this one.
Scotty 29 South

La Dolfina said...

I'm thrilled to find you and your blogs!!
This one is for my wonderful husband who is as passionate about cooking as I am about treasures!!
Looking forward to many wonderful meals via The Blushing Hostess!

red ticking said...

wow... looks fabulous. when i was a little girl i could not eat ham (or when i was forced to just hated it) it squeeked in my teeth... now, i just love it... and will surely try this yummie receipe... i am so happy you stopped by... i love your blog.. have a great week! x pam

The Caffeinated Globe said...

"The illusive but enchanting Virginia ham." I couldn't agree more. Food photos look delicious.

MareeAnn said...

Thanks for your comment on my blog ! But yours are just so beautiful and incredible pictures.

I've always been scared of cooking a ham...not sure why.
But it looks delish ! I'll give it a try ;)