Thursday, October 18, 2007

The quest for the superlative American ham

Maryland Ham Ne Plus Ultra (1858)

Take a single pound of Pepper, four times as much of Salt:
Two ounces of good Allspice, and a quart of Barley Malt;
Potash, about two ounces, Salt Petre twice as much;
One pound of good White sugar, which feels sandy to the touch;
A little common Soda, (to make the lean more mellow,)
And prevent the fatty part of meat, from becoming yellow.
Put these in filtered water, (five gallons is enough)
And boil them altogether—what a precious mess of stuff!
Skim off the foreign matter as it is not fit to eat,
When you will have the brine, for one hundred pounds of meat.
You need not stop to cool it, it is all the better hot,
But pour it, sans ceremonie, directly from the pot;
There let the meat for thirty days, lie soaking in this brine,
(but just add a small nutmeg, and a pint of Glycerine.)—
Then take it from the pickling tub, and wash it in cold water.
Next hang it up to smoke ten days, "leastwise" I think you ought to;
Burn Maple, Oak, Corn-Cobs or Tan, most any wood will do;
The old fogy song, 'bout Hickory wood, I don't believe is true;
Don't smoke whilst wind comes from the east, or southeast or the south;
For take my word that meat will taste quite bitter in the mouth;
But choose it north, north west or west, your meat will then smoke right,
And not present, as t'other would, a very ugly plight;
You then will have an article, that will the palate tickle;
I'm sure you will agree with me, that 'tis a pretty pickle.
You think the next thing to be told is how to keep it good;
That surely is not difficult, if once 'tis understood—
Sew up in canvas and suspend, but not quite to the skies,
You'll keep it thus secure against, the Rats, Mice, Bugs, and Flies.
Now don't you think this last is plain, as plain as plain need be,
I think it is so very plain, a blind man it would see.
by the Maryland farmwife, Mrs. D. Brown, who won contests throughout the Chesapeake region(for much more on ham)

No comments:

Post a Comment