Growing up in the South I was completely surrounded by everything pork, from bacon to bbq. Now that pork is the new BLACK, I feel an urge to share some of my knowledge about the swine, cause I do “dig on pig.”
When most people hear the word “country ham,” the response is usually one of two things: “ehh” or “you mean that dry salty meat?” So I’m here to the clear the fog.
Country ham typically comes from Southern states. It’s most popular in Tennessee, Georgia, Virginia, and Kentucky. Country ham is the method of curing and, most importantly, smoking in rural Southern towns. Usually, it’s salt-cured for 1 to 3 months and aged an additional 2 to 3 years, giving the meat a great smoky flavor with the melt-in-your mouth taste of prosciutto.
The process of making these hams is just as sacred as Italy’s method of making prosciutto, so why not try using Country ham instead?
I’m not claiming I like country ham as much as prosciutto, I’m just saying, try something different. I like using country ham in dishes because it provides a nice smoky-bacon flavor to the dish, while serving the same purpose of prosciutto.
Here’s a recipe I make using country ham:
Gnocchi with Green Peas ‘n Mushrooms in a Country Ham Cream Sauce
2 cups of Grated Parmigiano Reggiano
1/2 qt. of heavy cream
2 cups of sliced mushrooms (I like shitake)
1 small package of green peas
1/4 pound of country ham or Speck
1 package of Vantia pre-made gnocchi
In a small pot, bring the heavy cream to a simmer. Keep an eye on the cream to make sure it doesn’t scald. In a nonstick sauté pan, heat up the oil and add your mushrooms. Make sure you use a big sauté pan, so all your ingredients can fit. When the mushrooms are halfway done, add your country ham. When the country ham is slightly crispy, slowly add your simmering cream – don’t add the cream all at once, or you will lower the temperature of the pan. Add about one cup at a time.
Bring that to a boil and add your Parmigiano and green peas to the mix. Let simmer until it thickens. I like mine thick, so I let it simmer for a good 15 to 20 minutes.
Follow the recipe on the package to cook the gnocchi. When your gnocchi is finished, drain and add it to your simmering sauce.
Serve with crusty bread. That’s all you need.