Fulks Run Grocery is situated on the western edge of the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia and is a store front for Turner Hams. Sitting at the side of route 259 not far from the West Virginia line, the Turners have been using a secret family recipe to turn out sugar cured country ham for over 35 years.
My wife’s parents, who live nearby, often gift us a small bonesless ham. We slice it thinly on a meat slicer and store it in the fridge and freezer in Ziploc bags between layers of wax paper. It keeps very well and is always handy. Sliced thinly there’s no need to soak the salt out before cooking like you might with larger pieces.
Here are two recipes that feature these thin slices, crisped up like bacon.
Miso Scrambled Eggs on Buttered Toast with Red Pepper Jelly and Crispy Country Ham
Miso adds a savory richness that magnifies the silky, creamy texture of scrambled eggs. The sweet, piquant taste of red pepper jelly complements this richness. Crispy country ham provides an earthy crunch.
They key in this recipe is getting the pan up to heat and keeping it at the right temperature, moving the skillet on and off the burner to maintain a gentle, even heat.
Keep the eggs moving. It’s better to cook them slowly than to overcook. Use time (cooking slowly) versus heat (cooking quickly). Keep the heat where it just cooks the egg. They should be creamy, moist and nicely warm, not too hot.
It’s important the ham be sliced thinly to achieve a good degree of crispiness.
But this is all about the eggs.
1 1/2 tbsp half and half
1 tsp white miso
Four small slices of bread for toast – English muffin, sliced sourdough, etc.
Any red pepper jelly
Two very thin slices of country ham
Heat a dry 9″ iron skillet over medium high heat and cook the ham on both sides until crispy, about 5 minutes. Use a bacon press to get a good crunch. Drain on paper towels and clean out the pan to remove any residue.
Break the eggs into a large bowl and whisk in the half and half. Add a pinch of salt (not too much as the miso is salty), and a pinch of ground pepper. Whisk thoroughly to a uniform consistency.
Reheat the skillet over medium heat until very warm, about 2 minutes. Add a small slice of butter and let it melt. Pour in the eggs. They should not sizzle, but gently start cooking at the edges and on the bottom. Stir the eggs with a rubber spatula, scraping the cooked egg from the bottom and sides of the pan and incorporating it into the runny part. Continue to scrape and stir. Take the pan off the heat if the eggs cook too fast. This should be a slow contemplative process, and should take 4-6 minutes.
When the egg is still a little runny and wet, take it off the heat (if not already) and add the miso. Mash, stir, and dissolve it into the eggs as they finish cooking. They’re done when they’re creamy, moist and fluffy and the miso is evenly incorporated throughout.
Meanwhile toast the bread under the broiler. Immediately spread with a little butter and coat thinly with the red pepper jelly.
Spread the eggs onto the toast and top with the crispy ham.
Country Ham and Cheese Toasts
2 pieces country ham, sliced thin and crisped in a dry skillet
2 pieces bread for toast or 1 English muffin, halved
½ tsp fermented jalapeno mash to taste (recipe below) or your favorite chili sauce
1 tbsp mayo
2 slices Swiss cheese
Mix mayo and jalapeno mash or chili paste. Spread on one side of bread. Top with cheese. Place under broiler for a few minutes, watching closely. Remove when cheese gets soft and just begins to bubble but before it browns (you want it soft and pillow-like).
Top each with a crisped slice of country ham.
Jalapeno Mash (adapted from Robb Walsh’s book “The Hot Sauce Cookbook”)
(can use green or red jalapenos – both are good and different)
Roughly chop 1 lb ripe jalapenos (about 2 dozen) and place in a bowl.
Add 1 tbsp kosher salt, let sit overnight.
The next day, put jalapenos with salt and whatever juices have collected in a mason jar. Fill it to the top with spring water, cover loosely with the lid, and store in a cool place on a saucer as it may bubble over a bit.
Allow to ferment for 6-8 weeks.
Pour contents into a blender and puree.
Add to the blender ½ tsp sugar, 1 clove pressed or finely minced garlic, and 1 tbsp good vinegar. Pulse a few more times to combine.
Pour into clean mason jars and store in the refrigerator.
Will keep in the fridge for months, and will probably keep fermenting.