Why do we go to the Kentucky State Fair or any other State Fair in America?

pig raceMany old fashioned county fairs have long gone by the wayside. If you are old enough you will remember a day when those fairs offered farmers and housewives a platform on which to exhibit their skills whether it be raising livestock, crops, or entering baked and canned goods. They would compete in many different categories for blue or purple ribbons representing the best of the best at the fair. Then the winners from each county would go on to the State Fair.

Once you advanced to the State Fair, you were introduced into a much higher level of competition, but also a much higher level of entertainment such as the “Midway” with lots of rides; variety and musical shows and then there is “Fair Food” featuring everything either on a stick or deep fried. The Kentucky State Fair still has an enormous following each year.


The fair still continues to grow and change but yet many of the competitions have stayed the same. You might say a perfect blend of “Old and New”. Broadbent’s goes every year for a country ham competition. They take 5 of their very best hams to compete in a commercial country ham class. It’s always fun to be among the winners and Broadbent’s has won 16 Grand Champion Awards along with lots of purple (1st place ribbons.)

For the last few years Broadbent owners Ronny and Beth Drennan have taken their two grandchildren with them to the fair. Like most fairgoers they cover the fair from one end to the other. The grandchildren love to pet the goats, milk a cow which is very real looking: watch for baby chicks to hatch from their shells: view shows featuring live animals; eat fudge and ice cream: and enjoy the rides at the Midway.

Broadbent’s also allows approximately 60 4-H students each year from surrounding counties to participate in curing country hams for the State 4-H country Ham Competition. Some always emerge as 1st place winners in their age groups. These students along with their families spend a day at the fair each year. It’s a great way for families to take a break from their fast paced, busy lives.


If you haven’t been to a state fair, you are missing a treat. Put that on your bucket list for 2016!

Horse Racing & Country Ham, Kentucky Traditions

Churchill DownsBroadbent Award Winning Country hamTradition is one of the great aspects of the Kentucky Derby. Since 1875 Churchill Downs has been the home of the Derby.  It was started by Meriwether Lewis Clark, Jr., the grandson of William Clark of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.  England’s horse racing inspired him to begin this famous Kentucky tradition.  Broadbent’s methods of Dry-Curing Hams come from those same English roots and have been handed down many generations.  Country Ham and the Derby are a steadfast Kentucky Tradition.


Over 150,000 people will attend the derby each year.  The attendees will be quite a mix of celebrities and commoners. Ladies and Gents alike will be sporting the latest fashionable and trendy spring attire.  Country Ham will definitely be on the menu.  It is a time honored tradition that is always in fashion.


Another common fact about the derby and country ham:  The derby is often called the “run for the roses” because the winner is blanketed with 554 red roses.  Kentucky’s annual Grand Champion Country Ham is surrounded by a dozen roses each year at the Famous Charity Auction at the Kentucky State Fair. Broadbent Country Hams have been named the “Grand Champ” 16 times.


In 1973 Secretariat ran the fastest race ever coming in just under 2 minutes at 1:59.4.  But your party is guaranteed to last much longer than that when you serve up Broadbent Derby party selections such as:  traditional country ham, mint julep, bourbon chocolate and Kentucky’s Derby Pie®.  Infusing Kentucky traditions into your derby party allows you and your friends to enjoy the entire race day experience.

Tracing the Origin of Ham Curing

prosciuttoMost of us have been trained to understand unrefrigerated meat is a recipe for disaster. It’s been instilled in us from a young age meat left at room temperature for extended periods will inevitably spoil. But the best, highest quality meats, such as cured ham and prosciutto, actually get their flavor from dry curing in unrefrigerated conditions.
A practice prehistorically fundamental to keeping the produce and meat for consumption during times of famine, food curing is among the major advancements civilization. From basic survival to world discovery, the practice was pivotal to the modern world. Allowing for preservation of meat on long journeys, proper meat curing actually was in great part responsible for the migration of man to other parts of the world.
A keystone to the Age of Discovery in the 15th century, the salt in meat curing actually kills microbes by extracting the moisture. Water is the basis of all life, including fungus and bacteria. And because when enough water is extracted from a bacterial cell, it dies and can’t spoil the meat. But what was initially discovered and implemented as a means for basic food preservation, slowly evolved into an art form.
In addition to salt, specialty curing salt is mixed with sodium nitrate. Though much of the science of how sodium nitrate impacts meat product, it is known its presence is crucial to preventing microbial growth. But these ingredients alone were found to have harsh flavors. Cutting the saltiness, meat curers began to add sugar, honey and maple syrup. Not necessarily adding much to the flavor, these additives would more take away from the potency of the sodium.
With the elimination of the biting salt flavor during medieval Europe, a gourmet menu began to grow. For more than just necessity, everything from cured rabbit to mutton and pork was found on royal dinner tables from Portugal to Bavaria. Today, cured hind and front shoulder ham is a practice yielding the best meat in the world.

What Goes into a $2mil Ham?!

This past August, as you may have heard, a Kentucky State Fair ham snagged a record breaking $2 million at auction. The winning ham company, Broadbent B&B Foods, obviously has the winning touch for curing out-of-this-world ham. The auction of the state’s “grand champion” ham is a tradition, but a final multimillion dollar bid is far from tradition.

So what determines a ham is worth $2million? What is it the judges actually evaluate to determine a ham is worthy of the top fair reward. There are a lot of factors heavily weighed to determine a ham can actually win this kind of honor, but actually fetch such an immense price tag at auction as well.


For starters, ensuring the pork is adequately cured is imperative to the judging process. To determine this, judges will actually inject a probe into the ham to determine if it has fully cured. This is decided based on fragrant aroma and texture.


And these factors have as much to do with curing quality as the aesthetics of the pork cut. How the cut looks is judged on the following factors. Conformation referring to the general shape of the ham; Workmanship, the neatness and attractiveness of the trimmed surface of the face of the ham (meaning the severed edge of the hind leg); Color, once the ham is smoked with hickory wood, the hind surface is ideally black with a brown ‘fat ring’ while the rest of the skin tone is taut and pecan-colored.


Considering the ham Broadbent usually sells goes for closer to $60, rather than the multimillion dollar range, the Company was shocked and honored, considering the winning ham was cured only following normal procedures and recipe. The $2million in proceeds went entirely to charity supporting health and education nonprofit organizations.


Broadbent’s prized ham auctioned off for $2 million at this year’s Kentucky State Fair

The Million Dollar HamAt this year’s Kentucky State Fair, Broadbent’s Ham was six times more valuable than gold.
The 15.89-pound Grand Champion Ham sold for $2 million on August 21. That same day, 16 pound of gold would have been worth just over $300,000.

Last year’s ham sold for $350,000, and the bidding quickly topped that at Kentucky Farm Bureau’s 51st annual Country Ham Breakfast & Auction.  Enthusiasm mounted as the price rose from $400,000 to $600,000 to $900,000.  Then a timeout was called.  Kentucky Department of Ag’s Warren Beeler sprinted from one end of the room between Steve Trager of Republic Bank and Steve Wilson and Ryan Bridgeman of Hermitage Farms and Bridgeman Foods, conferring with the bidders and making sure his ears weren’t lying to him.

A historical deal was in the works.  The rival bidders had joined forces, bidding $1 million each, totaling a record $2 million dollars for the prized ham.  The money will now go to charities of the buyer’s choice.
The ham was auctioned off after being crowded the Kentucky State Fair Grand Champion Ham, Broadbent’s 16th year winning the crown.  Broadbent’s has come a long way from our humble beginnings. In 1967, Broadbent’s won its first Grand Champion, and the ham was auctioned for $825. This year we broke the record we set in 2010 when our ham sold for $1.6 million.

We’re the most decorated ham in Kentucky, but why take our word for it? Check out what folks in the media have to say…


“Record sale: Broadbent grand champion ham yields $2 million at KFB auction.” Times Ledger, Princeton, Ky. August 23, 2014. 

“Grand champion ham brings $2M.” Wave 3 News. Louisville, Ky. August 21,

“Ham upstages politicians at annual Kentucky Farm Bureau Ham Breakfast.” WHAS 11 News, Louisville, Ky. August 21, 2014.

“A high-priced ham.” The Courier-Journal. Louisville, Ky. August 22, 2014


Broadbent Country Ham Breakfast SteaksRed-eye gravy first showed up on the American frontier.  Or so one story goes…..

To help get going in the morning, cattle-herding cowboys would swirl strong, black coffee and a little flower in a skillet of drippings from pan-fried country ham.

How red-eye gravy got its name is up for debate. Some say it comes from the gravy’s appearance when the water-based coffee sinks to the bottom of a bowl and the oil-based grease forms a top layer, a mixture resembling a red human eye.

However, depending on how red-eye gravy is prepared, it doesn’t always have the red-eye look, leading to a pot full of urban legends surrounding its name sake. According to one legend, U.S. President Andrew Jackson called his cook over to order his breakfast. The cook’s eyes were bloodshot after a night of drinking, so the president requested ham with gravy as red as his eyes and ham gravy was known as red-eye gravy from then on. Another leans on logic, saying the term is homage to the black coffee ingredient and the fatigue symptom of having red eyes.

Well known in the South, red-eye gravy remains largely unheard of throughout the rest of the country. Whatever its history is, this gravy is here to stay. With Broadbent’s country ham, you too can make the gravy that packs a punch.

Instructions: To make red-eye gravy, stir a cup of black coffee into a pan of hot ham drippings. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to get any bits of ham that may be stuck to the pan. Cook until the mixture has thickened. Remove from heat and serve.

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Virginia, where both the United States of America and American Country Ham got their foundation.

Dry Cured Country Hams and Bacon hanging in a smokehouse in Colonial Williamsburg, VA.


Ham was a tricky business back in the eighteenth century. The pig had to be cooked and eaten the day it was slaughtered, and leftovers couldn’t be saved.


If you wanted to enjoy tasty pork products year-round, two things were necessary: the know how to dry cure meats and a smokehouse.


The smoking, curing and preservation had to begin during the winter months, and a day in December would often be designated for pig slaughtering.


In these smokehouses –- which became a regular neighborhood feature by the mid-eighteenth century– ham and bacon would hang as it aged, with steep roofs holding in the smoke from a continually smoldering fire.


Anyone who was anyone had a smokehouse, including Benedict Arnold, Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson. Smokehouses account for twelve of the eighty-eight original surviving structures in Colonial Williamsburg.
During the Revolutionary War, dried ham became a staple food item for American soldiers.


Now, reconstructed smokehouses are still used to cure and flavor ham and bacon. Even after the Revolutionary War this custom of preserving food was continued and is still in existence today, with the traditions carried on here at Broadbent’s.


Celebrate Independence Day this year by throwing some historical country ham on the grill.

Smokehouse in Colonial Williamsburg, VA.

Other ways to cook up Broadbent’s on the grill:


  • Bacon-wrapped jalapenos: Slice and seed a fresh jalapeno length-wise. Fill with cream cheese, wrap with Broadbent’s famous thick-cut bacon and secure with a toothpick. Place on the grill and cook until bacon is crispy.
  • Pepper Bacon-wrapped filet mignon or pork tenderloin: Both are delicious slow cooked on a gas grill with two heating burners. Turn only one burner on low heat and place meat over the burner that is not turned on. Allow meat to slow cook for 1 to two hours until reaching an internal temperature between 160 and 165 degrees.
  • Sauce up your chicken: When the grilled chicken is nearly done, reduce the heat of the grill to below 265 degrees (that’s the temperature sugar burns). Lather on a thick coating of your favorite Broadbent’s Barbecue Sauce to one side of the chicken. Close the grill lid for about 5 minutes. Turn the chicken and repeat.
  • Grilled Country Ham: Cook Broadbent Breakfast, Dinner and Biscuit slices approximately 5 minutes over low heat until the fat in the ham becomes translucent, then flip and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Thick Cut Center Country Ham steaks may take 1-2 minutes longer on first side.

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Churchill Downs & Country Hams: What do they have in common?

Broadbent Award Winning Country hamChurchill DownsChurchill Downs and Country Hams:  What do they have in common?


Churchill Downs will be the venue for “The Run-For-The-Roses” at the 140th Kentucky Derby on May 3rd and Country Ham will be the main entrée.  If you are unable to attend, don’t miss out on the fun just recreate the atmosphere in your home.  What do you need?  Here’s your check list:  TV to watch the race; Fancy hats to look the part; and Traditional Kentucky Derby Foods to enjoy the taste.    We can’t help you with the TV or the Hat, but you are sure to Win, Place and Show with delicious Derby Party Winners from Broadbent’s.


 The Country Ham needs to be sliced delicately thin and placed on traditional Beaten Biscuits.  Never heard of them, well they are more like an English Biscuit rather than a southern breakfast biscuit.  They are designed to take on the flavor of the ham.  Slice open and fill with the thin sliced Country Ham, let set a couple of hours at room temperature, add a little mustard and they will be ready to serve. 


 Kentucky Hot Brown is another Kentucky delight sure to show up at the Derby.  Check out the recipe here.  Kern’s Kitchen Kentucky Derby Pie® is the perfect desert for your party along with Kentucky Bourbon Chocolates and Pulled Creams. 


Last of all Mint Julep’s are a must.   The mint julep has been promoted by Churchill Downs in association with the Kentucky Derby since 1938. Since 2006 they have served extra-premium custom-made mint juleps at a cost of $1000 each. These mint juleps were served in gold-plated cups with silver straws. They were made from Woodford Reserve Bourbon, using mint imported from Ireland. If you can’t afford that mint julep; try our version made using Old Honey Barn Mint Julep Mixer.


Visit Broadbent Kentucky Derby Party Foods page for quick and easy Derby Party shopping. 



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Make Christmas Shopping Easy With Broadbent Hams


Christmas Ham GiftEveryone has that person on their Christmas list that is impossible to buy for. They’re the type of person that, for one reason or another, just doesn’t seem to need or want anything. That doesn’t mean you can show up on Christmas morning empty-handed. Instead, you need to get a little creative and come up with a gift that will satisfy the already satisfied. This Christmas, give the gift of delicious food from Broadbent’s to please even the fussiest of friends and relatives.


If you’ve already tasted products from our extensive line of ham, sausage, and bacon, you already know the joy it can bring to the table. Everything we sell is made the old-fashioned, Kentucky way- slow smoked, carefully seasoned, and patiently aged. The timeless taste of our meats, sides, and condiments make them treasured, thoughtful gifts that will show that you care about quality.


We have great gifts for any and every budget. For a more modest offering, you can order our Hickory Smoked Sausage Duo Gift Pack or Bluegrass Biscuit Brunch. On the other hand, for a big taste of everything, you can really impress your loved one by presenting them with an Award Winning Collection with our whole ham. Our website currently has gifts separated into three different price ranges to make your Christmas shopping easier. Of course, we also offer gift certificates worth $10, $20, and $50 in case you’re still not entirely sure what to go with.


Ham, bacon, and sausage aren’t the only things we offer at Broadbent. We have a sweet collection of candies and desserts, including pecan pie, pulled creams, and Kentucky bourbon chocolates. We also offer a great selection of traditional Kentucky sauces and spices, and a variety of books based on the rich history of Kentucky and its people.


You’ll be hard pressed to find Christmas gifts that will be a bigger hit than the old-fashioned Kentucky foods and great gifts from Broadbent. Just be careful. Those who receive something other than our delicious ham, bacon, or sausage are bound to be jealous of those that do. It might be a good idea to order some extra.


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Country Hams vs. City Hams: Which Should You Choose?


Country Hams

City Hams

Many ham lovers, especially outside of the American South, are unfamiliar with the difference between city hams and country hams. Up until the invention of refrigeration, every ham was a country ham. Ever since, modern grocery store meat aisles have shifted focus to the city ham, which is currently more dominant and familiar to Americans than its country counterpart.


This seismic shift in ham eating habits can be attributed largely to the difference in the curing process. Country hams have always been prepared with traditional dry curing methods.  This involves rubbing the surface of the ham with a typically “secret” cure, including salt to preserve the meat. The rub penetrates naturally over time as the country ham dries, being left to age for months.


City hams, on the other hand, employ a wet curing process. They can be soaked or injected with a brine formula that includes salt, water, and other flavorings and seasonings. It’s a much quicker process, one of the reasons wet curing was adopted as the method of choice for many ham makers.


Different curing processes lead to unique flavors and textures for each type of ham. The country ham takes on a firm texture and a deep red color. It has a rich and robust flavor, and is saltier than the city ham. Because of its intense taste, country ham is often used as an accent in other dishes like soups, or cut into thinner slices to be enjoyed on biscuits. City hams will be slightly sweeter with milder overall flavor.  Moist and tender due to the wet curing process, the city ham comes fully cooked and ready to eat.


If you’re unfamiliar with country hams, treat yourself or a friend to a unique Southern treat. We offer a variety of cooked and uncooked packages to introduce this culinary delicacy. If you prefer city hams, we have a mouth-watering array of those as well. At Broadbent’s, we respect every method that leads to a delicious ham.

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