Americans have learned to savor European hams, acknowledging them as delicacies–the finest examples can command well over $100 per pound. But country ham in America doesn’t have the same kind of reputation among gourmets, and it remains a deeply democratic food. Allan Benton, who makes one of the true gold-standard country hams, charges $6.50 for a 15-ounce package.
He goes on to explore the history of country ham, and discuss how restaurants are embracing it, and even curing their own versions. It’s definitely worth a read.
Recently, I tried a great American cured ham called a “Surryano” from Surry Farms in Surry, Virginia. It’s smoky, soft, fatty, with a bit aged-funkiness. The hams are made from certified humane Berkshire pigs, smoked over hickory for seven days, and aged over a year. While it’s not as cheap as the Benton ham Lam mentions, it is cheaper than buying Spanish or Italian hams, and particularly worth checking out if you are looking to purchase a whole bone-in leg.