Susan’s Ham



Honestly I have no idea who Susan is, but her ham is delicious.

  • Ham
  • Whole cloves
  • Dijon mustard
  • Brown Sugar
  • Apple Juice
  • 8 ounces of figs
  • 8 ounces of prunes
  • 8 ounces of other dried fruits
  • Port

Score ham and press in whole cloves.  Cover ham with Dijon mustard. Pat with brown sugar. Baste with apple juice. Cook at 325 degrees for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

soak figs, prunes and dried fruit in a good port while it cooks. Pour over ham and 1/2 hour more. Serve fruit and juice hot with ham.

Candied Bacon & Bourbon Ice Cream


Ice Cream
3 tablespoons butter cubed
¾ cup brown sugar or maple sugar
¼ teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1⅔ cups heavy cream
1¼ cups whole milk
6 large egg yolks
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch of ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons bourbon

Candied Bacon
12 strips bacon
⅓ cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon bourbon
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Melt the butter in a  saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in the brown sugar and salt. Let the mixture come to a low boil and cook for 1½ minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat and add ⅔ cup of the cream, stirring until smooth. Transfer the mixture into a large bowl.

In the same saucepan, warm the remaining 1 cup cream and the milk. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm cream and milk mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then add the mixture into the saucepan. Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat, make sure you scrape the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats a spatula.

Pour the custard through a mesh strainer and stir it into the butter-cream mixture over an ice bath until cool. Add the vanilla and cinnamon.  Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator.

To make the candied bacon, preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and set a wire cooling rack on top.

In a  bowl, combine the bacon with the brown sugar, bourbon, cayenne, and several generous turns of black pepper. place the bacon strips on the wire rack and put in the oven.

Cook the bacon for about 12 minutes. Turn the bacon strips over and bake for about another 6 minutes. Turn again and continue to bake until the strips are a dark mahogany color but are not burnt.  Cooking time greatly depends upon the thickness of your bacon, so watch carefully as the bacon nears near the end of the recommended baking time.

Remove the bacon from the oven, wait 30 seconds or so before removing the strips from the wire rack.

Add  3 tablespoons bourbon to the chilled ice cream custard, then freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Chop the cooled bacon into bite size or smaller pieces. When the ice cream has finished churning, fold in the pieces of candied bacon.

Transfer to a container and place in freezer until ice cream achieves desired consistency.

Seasoning Meat for Greens


“TOO MANY PEOPLE THINK MEAT, often fried meat, sits at the center of the Southern plate. Maybe it does today, but historically we ate large pieces of meat once or twice a week. The rest of the time, cooks used “seasoning meat” as a condiment—a means to round out a vegetable-and-grain-focused meal. Seasoning meat is usually pork, but never a fancy cut. Instead, it is every nook, cranny, nugget, and bone salted, smoked, or ground into sausage to lend flavor to pots of anything you can boil.”

~ Vivian Howard

Air-Dried Sausage: The seasoning meat of choice in Eastern North Carolina.  The tang and funk is unforgettable.

Smoked Pig Tails: An often overlooked option.  These little morsels will give off a lot of flavor especially if you have them split it half.

Smoked Pig Trotters: That’s pig’s feet to most of us.  Have the butcher split them in half so they give up their fat and flavor.

Smoked Ham Hocks: This is the seasoning meat everyone thinks of when making collards or other greens.  That’s for good reason As hocks offer flavor, body, and good-size chunks of meat.  It takes a long Cooking time to coax the flavor and meat out of these, but it’s time we’ll spent.  Oh and then the potlikker.

Smoked Neck Bones: These nuggets do double duty as seasoning meat and centerpiece.  They have a almost obsessive following that loves to gnaw at the luscious bits of meat.

Belly Bacon or Jowl Bacon: Bacon is typically made from the belly, but their cousin jowl bacon is fattier and more flavorful.  Both are a cured and smoked meat that can either be rendered in the pot before water is added or simply added with the water.  You might consider rendering half of it and then adding the rest with the water for a more complex seasoning.

Fatback: It’s just what it sounds like the fat from the back of the pig.  If you’re going to use it as seasoning meat first cure it in salt and treat as you would bacon.  It can also be used to make lard, but not as coveted as leaf lard.

Pickled Pork: A staple of Creole and Cajun cooking that is often added to red beans and rice.  Usually made from Pork butt or pork belly.

Smoked Country Ham: If you have a limitless budget this is an option.  It lacks fat for the most part and thus won’t add as much flavor.  A better place for it is as the centerpiece of a meal, on a biscuit or with grits.  It’s up to you though if you wish to experiment.

Rendering Leaf Lard

Leaf lard surrounds a pig’s kidneys and is of very high quality.  Leaf lard enjoyed a revered place on the baking counter, until it was usurped in the early part of the 20th century by the brilliant needs no refrigeration marketing campaign of vegetable shortening.

To Render:

  • Ask your butcher for leaf lard and not back fat.   Five to 6 pounds is a decent amount to make 4 or 5 pints worth. Look at it to make sure it doesn’t have a lot, or preferably any red meat on it. If it has a lot, it may be back fat which is not as high quality.
  • With a clean sharp knife, chop the fat into small pieces about the size of an almond.
  • Cover the bottom of a heavyweight stockpot with a bit of water. Spread the pieces of fat evenly over the surface of the pan.
  • Turn the burner to low, and set the pot on top. Then relax and stir occasionally while the fat melts. The white fat will turn clear as it melts. Five to 6 pounds of fat can take three hours or so in the oven, but less time on the stovetop.
  • Be sure that the fat doesn’t scorch or it will give a noticeable flavor to the finished leaf lard.
  • When most of the pieces are melted, carefully pour the clear hot fat through a double layer of cheesecloth and into a bowl. Ladle out any remaining fat bits and finish by ladling into jars. Let cool completely before you put on the lids.
  • To freeze, you can let the rendered leaf lard cool completely in the bowl, weigh out 4-ounce pieces, individually wrap, and freeze in dated freezer bags.
  • When you feel a pie making or biscuit session coming on, you’re already one step ahead.


Pork Cut Profile: Pork Belly



Pork belly is a flavorful cut that is popular in Italian, French, Chinese and more and more in Southern cuisines. A hot commodity on the futures market, pork belly is very tasty but can also be fatty. It may be braised, turned into soft, rich shreds called rillettes, turned into confit or made into a terrine. It is the cut from which bacon and salt pork are prepared.

Meat Characteristics: Pork belly is a very fatty, tough, flavorful cut.

How much should I buy: A whole pork belly weighs about 18 pounds, a skinless pork belly weighs about 13 pounds.  Allow 4 to 8 ounces per person.

Common Flavor Combinations: Bay leaves, caraway, cilantro, cinnamon, cumin, fennel, garlic, leeks, paprika, sake, soy sauce, star anise.