Slow-Cooked Country Ham Recipe with the Help of a Sleeping Bag – NPR

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Slow-Cooked Country Ham Recipe with the Help of a Sleeping Bag - NPR family recipe update linda ishmael wide 5dc243592ae40e2133737dc571456248a1f66044 s1100 c50

As a child, Linda Ishmael helped her grandparents prepare Old Kentucky Ham for the holidays.

Linda Ishmael/NPR Collage


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Linda Ishmael/NPR Collage

Slow-Cooked Country Ham Recipe with the Help of a Sleeping Bag - NPR family recipe update linda ishmael wide 5dc243592ae40e2133737dc571456248a1f66044 s1200

As a child, Linda Ishmael helped her grandparents prepare Old Kentucky Ham for the holidays.

Linda Ishmael/NPR Collage

All Things We’re Cooking is a series featuring family recipes of you, our readers and listeners, and the special stories behind them. We’ll continue to share more of her kitchen gems throughout the holidays.

When Linda Ishmael was growing up, her family’s Christmas celebrations always included “putting the ham to sleep” to prepare it for Christmas dinner, when dozens of family members would visit their Kentucky farm.

The dream process is a method of slow cooking a salt-cured country ham for 24 hours that, according to Ishmael, dates back to pioneer cooking.

“It was a way for the women to cook many dishes at once,” Ishmael said. “They could put the ham somewhere else to slow cook while they use their oven to cook other things.”

Ishmael lives in Flemingsburg, Ky., about 4 miles from where he grew up on hundreds of acres of land with his parents, siblings, aunt, uncle, cousins, and grandparents. Of all the children, Ishmael said, she was the only one interested in being in the kitchen with her grandmother.

“I would leave my house and either walk or bike up to my grandparents’ house… so I was always there, as part of the prep work,” Ishmael said.

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It is here where he learned everything necessary to cook the special ham that also made an appearance at Easter and other family celebrations.

To get started, you need to gather your ingredients and equipment, which includes some rugs with no plastic liner on the bottom, a newspaper, blankets, a cold-weather sleeping bag, and a pot with a lid or a butter tin that can hold all ham. in water.

Ishmael uses a plastic pot scrubber to clean the ham under cold running water. He then soaks the ham in a pot of water for 24 hours. This helps rehydrate the ham and removes a good deal of the salt, Ishmael said.

The ham is then placed in the gauze bag it came in or another cloth that can be tied at the top and returned to the pot. Fill the ham pot again with fresh, cold water and put it on the heat until it boils. You want it to stay on the boil for 30 minutes.

Then carefully lift the pot or can off the stove. This is a job that Ishmael said was reserved for her grandfather when she was little.

“My grandfather put on a raincoat so the hot water wouldn’t splash on him when he took it off the stove, and he’d always wink at me and say, you know, ‘Better safe than sorry.'” Ishmael remembered.

His grandfather would move the pot of ham over the rugs and then begin the wrapping process.

Wrapping the ham starts with making sure the lid is secure, then placing two layers of newspaper around the pot and on top. Ishmael said you can tape them down if you want. Next come blankets, and lastly, a sleeping bag good for temperatures below 32 degrees Fahrenheit.

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The sleeping bag was added after one of Ishmael’s family members left one behind after a camping trip.

“It really created a good insulator, because when 24 hours go by and you come back to take this stuff off, unwrap it, you want it still extremely hot in the pot,” he said.

After those 24 hours of slow cooking, the ham is grated before being encrusted with the biscuit mixture and browned in the oven.

Ishmael said that after it’s done, you have to hide it from the family until dinner time, that’s how good it is.

“Everyone who has ever eaten it has loved it,” he said. “As I have always said, this is the best ham I have ever eaten.”

Old Kentucky Ham

Recipe sent by cute ishmael
Flemingsburg, Ky.

Ingredients

  • 1 salt-cured country ham, about 16 to 18 pounds
  • 2 sleeves of crackers, more if needed
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • about 1/2 to 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar

Equipment

  • 1 large pot or can of butter with a lid that can hold the ham and water
  • 1 cheesecloth bag
  • 1 newspaper
  • 2 rugs that do not have a plastic underlay
  • several towels and blankets
  • 1 cold weather sleeping bag suitable for temperatures below 32 degrees Fahrenheit
  • tape (optional)

Addresses

Clean and scrub the ham with a plastic scrubber under cold running water.

Put the ham in the pot and cover it with cold water and let it soak overnight or for 24 hours.

After soaking overnight, pour off the water and place the ham on the cheesecloth. Return the whole ham to the pot and cover with fresh, cold water.

Bring the pot to a boil over medium heat. Once it comes to a rapid boil, keep the pot on the stove for 30 minutes.

After boiling, place the pot with the lid on two rugs, such as rag rugs or braided rugs. (Do not use rugs with a plastic backing.)

Wrap two layers of newspaper around the pot, including the top. You can use some masking tape to hold the newspapers in place. Then, wrap a layer of towels around the pot and on top, using masking tape to help keep the towels in place.

Wrap a blanket around the pot and a quarter-folded blanket over the top. Then slip a zippered camping sleeping bag (one good for 32 degrees or below) over the newspaper/blanket-covered pot.

Leave for 24 hours.

Remove the ham from the water and remove the skin.

Crush the crackers and combine them with the brown sugar in a bowl. Pour in the apple cider vinegar until the mixture becomes moist and sticks and adheres to the ham.

Score ham at 3/4-inch intervals. Then rub the mixture over the top of the ham and sprinkle with black pepper.

Cook to a nice golden color in a 400 degree oven, for about 15 minutes.

Chill the ham (and hide it from the family) until dinner time.

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