Blurry because we were in a hungry hurry!
As the wife of a wine grape grower, I agree that wine may be created with a sense of place, a terrior.
Does a food—such as a Southern Maryland Stuffed Ham—have a terroir? Or would you just call it a regional food? No doubt this method of preparing ham has its origins as Soul Food— the powerful mix of pungent greens, onions, herbs n’ spices mixed with pork and boiled for long hours has its roots in the 1700s and Southern Maryland tobacco culture. It is certainly a seasonal food. Originally served at Easter, Southern Maryland Stuffed Ham season now extends throughout the cold weather holidays, from Thanksgiving to Easter—taking advantage of cold weather hardy greens and seasonal pig slaughter. In my cursory internet research, I’ve found many opinions as to the type of ham (smoked vs corned), type of ingredients (spinach and paprika need not apply) and method of cooking (boiled is preferred over baked). Read enough of the links below and you’ll see that the local food movement has revived interest in how best to prepare a Southern Maryland Stuffed Ham. Local church ladies kept the culinary faith going throughout the community, as well as a few local eating establishments and taverns. Local grocery chains produce their own stuffed hams for quick purchase, although the prices are dear.
With such a rich culinary tradition, what may a Midwestern transplant add to the Southern Maryland Stuffed Ham conversation?
This past Christmas found me with a 12 pound ham and a husband chasing the stuffed ham dragon. He wasn’t alone. We often reminisced a long ago Thanksgiving dinner at his Uncle Pete’s house, when Aunt Judy served church lady stuffed ham with her oyster stuffing and other side dishes. Could it be recreated? Shouldn’t the wife currently enjoying her staycation be the one to attempt this culinary feat? Head abuzzing with the internet conversations and the desire to eat stuffed ham, I gathered the ingredients and made my way forward.
First off, I purchased my ham bone-in, since I wished to keep my grandfather’s tradition of using the leftover ham bone for his navy beans. Necessity dictated that I bake my stuffed ham, as I do not own an industrial-sized stockpot. Since I was baking the ham, I decided to commit a further sin by not stuffing the ham, but cooking the stuffing in the pot-likker next to the ham. Since my ham would bake for 3 hours, I decided to add the stuffing during the last hour of baking. I poured a cup and a half of apple juice over the ham, foiled the roaster really well so the ham would steam/bake and noted the time.
My stuffing ingredient list followed others I had seen:
- Mustard seed
- Celery seed
- Red pepper flakes
- Italian parsley (because I found I purchased too much parsley, earlier)
- Garlic (because I can’t understand how this recipe doesn’t have garlic in it.)
Creating the stuffing means fine chopping all the non-spice ingredients, which is really satisfying to do, then thoroughly mixing in the spices (good rule of thumb seems to be 2 tablespoons each. My red pepper flake tablespoons were heaping.) and blanching the spiced stuffing for a couple of minutes. I waited for the last hour of the ham baking, then stuffed the stuffing around the ham, put back the foil and put the ham back into the oven for the final hour.
Southern Maryland Stuffed Ham can be eaten with white bread, potato rolls or biscuits. For some reason, Ger bought buttermilk, so I found Alton Brown’s Buttermilk Biscuit recipe and went to work. Boy2 and I added shredded sharp cheddar cheese to the biscuits and while the ham rested, the biscuits baked. Crazy with the smell of stuffed ham and biscuits, we hacked apart the ham, barely got the table set and blog picture snapped before stuffing ourselves with ham biscuits.
I would like to say we drank our Vidal or Port of Leonardtown Winery’s MacIntosh Run Apple Wine with the stuffed ham biscuits, but boy2′s homemade rootbeer had sufficiently developed enough carbonation. The deliciously creamy rootbeer was chugged as we wolfed the spicy stuffed ham and biscuits and gloated over the thought of chilled leftovers—which is how Southern Maryland Stuffed Ham is supposed to be served. It was a success and I know I’ll be asked to repeat the meal again—but it will have to be over a weekend. I can’t wait to try cooking the stuffed ham over the farmhaus woodstove!
For more information about Southern Maryland Stuffed Ham, please visit: