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After a twitter rhyme regarding ham jam, I knew that I was going to try, but didn’t know when. Just before bringing last week’s country ham home, I realized that I needed to clear fridge and freezer space to make it happen. I had just a bit of some beautifully fatty country ham from Cypress left in my fridge and I had an idea of how to piece a batch of ham jam together

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I would use my recipe for bacon jam and make material modifications to suit the superiority of country ham over bacon. There I said it. Again. Country ham is just better. You have smoke. You have salt. But then you have fermentation. You have aging. Truly amazing stuff.

With that adaptation in mind, I sliced the ham and rendered some of the fat from it. Then I added shallots, garlic, brown sugar, black pepper, and chili flake. Finally I added the liquid ingredients. Coffee and bourbon were in the bacon jam and they stay, but to fit well with the ham, I subbed in coffee vinegar to mimic the flavors of red eye gravy and subbed in homemade cold-smoked honey because honey seems to be very friendly with ham.

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With the deep darkness of the coffee vinegar combined with some nice caramelization of the brown sugar and smoked honey, the mixture ended up far darker than I expected. My initial instinct was it was burned, but after tasting, despite being nearly black in color, it was not burned. The coffee and coffee vinegar added a level of bitterness, but not burned bitterness.

Once cooked and slightly cooled, I processed the mixture very quickly. Once scraped into a jar and completely cooled, I tasted the jam again.

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There is salt, sweet, smoke, bitterness and the funk of an aged ham remained. It was great on some home-baked bread, but even better in a bowl of steel-cut oats topped with buttermilk, chili flake and mint. This is not a bowl of oats that they hand out at Starbucks, but after tasting it alone, I knew that what the jam was missing was the last bit of sour. The coffee vinegar was there, but it balanced the other flavors, it was not forward in the least.

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Finally, as a late dinner, I removed the backbone and breastbone of a chicken and stuffed the ham jam under the skin. This was the real treat. The skin crisped around the jam and the flavors went deep into the chicken. And now with a half pound of ham completely gone by ways of oatmeal, chicken skin, and a small square of bread, I have more space for my new ham.

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Ham Jam
  • 1/2 pound country ham
  • 3 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 3 ounces coffee
  • 2 ounces coffee vinegar
  • 1 1/2 ounces smoked honey
  • 1 ounce bourbon

Step one: Roughly chop ham and render some of the fat on the stove top. Sweat shallots and garlic in rendered fat.

Step two: Add brown sugar, black pepper, red pepper, and smoked honey, cook over medium heat until the sugar begins to liquify. It will take color. This is ok. This is not food meant to be pretty.

Step three: Add liquid ingredients and turn the heat to low. Cook covered for 30 minutes, remove lid, and cook for another 30 minutes.

Step four: Remove from heat and let cool for 10-15 minutes. Process for a few seconds in a food processor being careful not to liquify the jam. It isn’t jelly afterall.

Step five: Store in a jar. Use at will.

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