Ham recipes have always been special to me; they tend to remind me of family gatherings. But recently, they have been especially special. For starters, my other ham recipe marks the first collaboration I did with my friends at US Wellness Meats, when I was their April 2012 Featured Chef. Last year, that same ham recipe was featured in People Magazine. That’s quite a lot of attention from one little cured pig leg!
The other day, US Wellness Meats asked me to try out another ham recipe, this time using a slow cooker. I jumped at the chance. This recipe is simple and not unlike my other recipe, but with the added convenience of simply throwing everything in a pot to cook in a savory broth. Better yet, this recipe works well in two ways: perfectly cooked to 140F and sliced, or slow-cooked to shreddable deliciousness. Instructions for both methods are provided below.
I wanted to come up with a special Easter dish this year, but I quickly realized that I couldn’t use your standard Easter meal ideas; I’ve already posted recipes for ham and lamb roasts this year. Instead, I settled on a traditional Polish Easter Soup called Żurek (also often referred to as Biały Barszcz – “White Borscht”). This soup uses a combination of pork (kielbasa sausage, ham, or in our case, bacon), boiled eggs, and veggies in a slightly sour and creamy (hence the “white”) broth.
There are quite a few challenges with creating a grain-free version of this soup. First of all, the soup is traditionally made by soaking and fermenting/souring rye bread as a soup starter. Instead, we’re going to create a “sour” taste by using another popular method – horseradish and sour cream. Żurek is also traditionally served in a rye bread bowl or with large chunks of rye bread as an accompaniment. We’re just going to omit that whole rye bread part; it didn’t make this soup any less delicious!
Ham seems like a simple hunk of meat. All you have to do is buy a cured, pre-sliced ham and warm it up in the oven. Unfortunately, while this is the easiest (and most common) way to get some ham in your belly, it’s not the healthiest option. Your everyday pre-cooked ham is loaded with sugar and nitrates.
I’ve been meaning to tackle an uncured ham for a while, so imagine my delight when US Wellness Meats asked me to write up a recipe for their petite ham. This smoked ham is both sugar and nitrate free, using compassionate certified pork. Its size is also perfect for our family of three – 2.5 lbs of porcine goodness. There was plenty for us to eat, and a good amount of leftovers to boot. For those of you using a cured and/or a spiral-cut ham, don’t worry – this recipe works just fine for them as well.