From Bill Smith’s Kitchen – Eastern North Carolina Corned Ham

For the last few years the Carrboro Farmers’ Market has been open year round. It’s much smaller of course, but still worth visiting. This winter for a change we have had a real drawn-out cold spell.  This will have set back some of the things that ordinarily do well here at this time of year. One crop that won’t be bothered is collards. My great grandmother always said that you shouldn’t even eat them until after the first frost. If she got any before this, she would put them in the freezer for a while before they were cooked.

Meats and cheeses are not affected by the season and we now have lots of both there. In fact, I always wait until after the holidays to bring back corned hams, a favorite recipe from Eastern North Carolina. Every Wednesday between now and Easter, I have Eliza MacLean bring one fresh ham from her Cane Creek Farm. I salt it the way Gwen at the Pak’a’Sak in New Bern showed me years ago and put it in the back of the fridge to cure for eleven days. I used to cook it plain, but a few years ago, I was doing a fundraiser with the Kitchen Sisters for our local NPR affiliate. In their book Hidden Kitchens, they make reference to a Maryland-style corned ham that is stuffed with winter greens. I had never seen a reference to corned hams anywhere so I decided to try this version. I had always viewed my recipe as beyond improvement, but this new version is unbelievably good. It has now become part of our repertoire at Crook’s Corner.

Eastern North Carolina Corned Ham
(The plain version and the fancy version)
Serves a crowd

15-20 pound fresh ham
Kosher salt

2 green cabbages, finely chopped
4 pounds fresh kale, finely chopped
6 bunches scallions, finely chopped
1 bunch of celery, finely chopped
And if you are stuffing it:
2 pounds other greens (collards, turnip or spinach etc.), finely chopped
2 Tablespoons celery seed
3 Tablespoons whole mustard seed
3 Tablespoons ground red pepper flakes
1 Tablespoon black pepper
1 Tablespoon salt

Rinse and dry the ham. Use a sharp boning knife to make a three or four inch incision at each place that the bone protrudes from the meat. This is usually in three places: one at each end and one place on the side. Pack as much salt as possible into each of these incisions, and then cover the outside of the ham with a thin layer of salt. Place in a non-reactive pan and cover. Keep in the refrigerator for 11 days. Turn the ham and resalt the outside if you think about it. One the night of the 11th day wash the ham and flush the salt out of the pockets that you cut. Soak overnight in cool water.

The ham is ready to cook at this point, and in fact this is the ham that I grew up eating. Just cook covered at 325 degrees for 20 minutes a pound.  Put a little water in the roasting pan. Uncover for the last hour of cooking so the ham will brown. Ham should be beginning to fall off of the bone. Let rest a little before serving.

To stuff the ham:
This next part comes from Phyllis Richman (formerly of the Washington Post) by way of The Kitchen Sisters:
Wilt all the vegetables in a little water or oil, then stir in the seasonings. Allow to cool enough to be handled. With the boning knife, cut 2 to 3 inch slits all over the ham, wherever there is room. Stuff as much of the vegetable mixture into these slashes as possible. Pack any leftover stuffing on top of the ham, then cook the same as explained above.

Bill Smith, the author of Seasoned in the South: Recipes from Crook’s Corner and from Home, has served as chef at Crook’s Corner for more than a decade. His essays have been featured in newspapers and on radio and television, and his recipes have been selected for 150 Best American Recipes and Food & Wine Magazine’s Best of the Best.


11 Comments On This Post:

July 26, 2010
11:28 pm
Bill Smith of Crook’s Corner blogs about Cane Creek Farm’s Fresh Hams says...

[…] Read the blog at:… […]

November 11, 2011
1:54 pm
Bill Gibbs says...

I live in the N. Myrtle Beach area. I used to purchase my corned hams at Food Lion, Bi Lo and Lowe’s Foods all the time. They are getting harder and harder to come by. Any ideas where I could get one, or two?

December 20, 2011
5:39 pm
Marc G. says...

I’m gonna try this stuffed recipe this Christmas. Got a 17lb corned ham at Food Lion in Columbia, SC. Looks delicious. Wish me luck.

August 18, 2012
8:45 pm
Crippen’s Bearded | CarolinaEpicurean says...

[…] making Corned Ham yourself: recipe from Bill Smith’s cookbook, Seasoned in the South, for both the “plain and fancy” […]

November 15, 2012
1:51 am
Bgenie30 says...

I remember my Mother and Grandmothers boiling the ham and cooking collards in the broth. I believe they stuck the ham in the oven for a short while for browning. Don’t remember if they put anything in the pot, like spices, or not. Don’t know which was better tasting, the ham or the collards! The ham wasn’t stuffed, but I sure was!

November 19, 2012
4:08 pm
Sherry R. says...

Can anyone tell me where to buy a Corned Ham in Virginia? Can’t be found this year. Would love to find one.

December 19, 2012
11:10 pm
ILoveCHam says...

WJ Dent in Timbers MD will ship one to you.

December 25, 2012
11:33 am
Deb Gorham says...

We got ours at Central Meats (local butcher) in Chesapeake.

December 28, 2012
5:03 pm
jim sinclair says...

Nahunta Outlet at NC Farmer’s Mkt. Raleigh has Corned Hams.
Am confused with what you do with all of these pounds of vegs.
Understand wilting, but isn’t this a lot.

January 16, 2015
1:14 pm
John Frasier says...

My grandfather cured his hams in a similar fashion but did not refer to it as “corning”. He also made the cuts along the bone but his packing was a mixture of salt,brown sugar and black pepper. Coating the outside with a pepper/salt mixture. This wrapped in brown paper, placed in a cloth sack and hung in the cellar for approxi. 2 months. The taste was only slightly salty with a wonderful moist and tender meat texture. I have tried many great country hams over the years
but none to match his. By the way my grandfathers side of the family hails from the little river
section above salem, sc

March 6, 2015
5:43 pm
Mike Torma says...

I bought a corned Ham that’s says it is cured. Can I baked it like a regular Ham . If It is cured I think just put it in the oven and bake it. Feed back please .

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