Country ham, dry-cured in salt, is the most internationally famous southern food. No wonder: the recipes for curing have not changed in 350 years. Harriott Pinckney Horry wrote down curing receipts from Virginia in her late-18th-century journal. Now, in the late 20th century, curers in Smith-field, Virginia, ship more than 10 million hams each year!
Real ham lovers like me prefer “old hams,” aged a year or more. Like so many fine wines and cheeses, they develop character over time.