3 Easy Appetizers for New Year’s Eve

3 appetizers New Years Eve graphic


Can you believe we are only 4 days away from 2017? We are looking forward to another year filled with growth, family and traditions. There are many different traditions for the new year. We always celebrate with family fun and delicious food. Instead of a large meal, we simply do a mix of finger foods that can be eaten throughout the evening. This year we wanted to share a few of our favorites. These 3 recipes are easy and tasty without a lot of clean up.

Bacon Bites

Combining cheese and bacon you can never go wrong. We love these easy and picturesque Bacon Bites. We suggest microwaving or baking your bacon for ease and quick clean up. If your making other dishes with bacon, you can easily cook the bacon ahead of time and crumble then store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.


1 (10 ounce) can Rotel tomatoes, drained (can use plain if you want to avoid spiciness)

2½ cups Broadbent bacon, crumbled

1 cup shredded swiss cheese

8 ounces softened cream cheese

45 frozen phyllo pastry cups, thawed (you can use the sheets and cut circles with cookie cutters if you can’t find cups)


Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees. Mix the drained tomatoes, bacon pieces, swiss cheese & cream cheese in a bowl till blended. Spoon mixture into thawed phyllo cups. You want them mostly full. I filled them about ½” above the cups. Place filled cups onto a baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 or until heated and cheese is melted.

Sausage Balls

This is one of our family favorites! The recipe is super simple and easy, they are quick and kid friendly. Feel free to let the kids help and get hands on in the kitchen.  We serve our sausage balls as they are but many families enjoy serving dipping sauces along side. If you prefer try dipping sauces such as honey mustard, spicy catsup, or one of the several other options floating around Pinterest.sausage balls


1 lb. Broadbent Breakfast Sausage, thawed

2 C. Broadbent biscuit mix

1 lb. Cheddar cheese, Shredded


Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl combine sausage, biscuit mix and cheese. You can do this with a fork or utensil, but hands usually become the easiest as you want it mixed very well. Form walnut size balls (1 inch), then place on a non-stick cookie sheet. Bake 20-25 minutes, until golden brown and sausage is cooked all the way through. (No pink) To prevent sticking, you can move the balls with a spatula about halfway through the cooking process.

Loaded Baked Potato Rounds

Potatoes are a comfort classic but we are stepping away from the table making them travel ready. This recipe is easy to put together and you can customize it by adding any of your favorites such as a small dollop of sour cream. Potatoes are also a filling food that is budget friendly, the chives add color and make them feel extra festive. These are perfect for picky eaters!

Ingredientspotato rounds

5-6 baby red potatoes, sliced about ¼ inch thick rounds

Olive Oil, enough to brush potatoes

2 c. Shredded Cheddar Cheese

8 strips Broadbent Hickory Bacon, cooked and chopped

3 chopped chives

Salt & Pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line backing sheets with parchment paper, trust us it will make the clean up a breeze and avoid tearing the potato rounds. Lay the potato rounds out in a single layer across both sheets then brush with olive oil. Bake about 30 minutes, flipping the potatoes halfway through for even baking. Remove from oven and top with cheese, bacon and chives. Return to oven about 10 minutes, the key is that the cheese is melted. Add any extras (cold sour cream) and serve warm.

How does your family celebrate the New Year? Share in the comments below

How to Portion Plan Your Thanksgiving

pablo (1)When it comes to Thanksgiving, it is the holiday most associated with food. As a guest, it can be a simple and joyous holiday; as the host, it can be stressful and overwhelming. We want to help ease the stress of planning and preparing. The one complaint that accompanies Thanksgiving most often is, “What do I do with all the leftovers?”. The best way to fight the leftover overload is to simply avoid them. With planning and our tips, we will try to keep your fridge door closing.

Make a list! Whether it is hand-written or a detailed excel spreadsheet, know who is coming to your gathering. Most likely these are individuals you know well, so indicate how many are adults and children. Children tend to eat less and if you just count individuals you are sure to have left overs.Count 2 children as one adult. If they are younger than school age, don’t count their portions at all. The amount they will eat, especially across several dishes will be too small to worry about.

Vthanksgiving-694170_640ary your Dish Temperatures. Plan a meal that includes items that are best served hot, as well as room temperature. This can ease the stress of everything having to be kept warm and running extension cords to kitchen appliances. It can also allow you to arrange the food in a manner that it is least forgotten. Several times over the years, we had leftovers of items that forgot to be pulled out or were in a place where it was overlooked by most.

Appetizers. Depending on your meal, you may want to include appetizers. We often gather at around noon, but don’t eat for a few hours allowing everyone to talk and arrive. This is a great time to have bulk appetizers (such as chips & dips). If you’re going to eat immediately, you can likely skip the appetizers. If you’re going for traditional appetizers, offer no more than 4 different types, and account for 6-8 pieces per person.

The Meat! Deciding whether your meal will be meat focused is the first thing. If you plan to serve Ham or Turkey with a few sides, estimate about 8 oz (1/2 lb) per adult. If you plan to have a large buffet style meal with several appetizers, sides, desserts and more then opt of for only 4 oz (1/4 lb) per adult. While some may eat more meat than others, some will eat less.

Skip the Skipped. Think about your last holiday meal. Was there an item that basically didn’t get eaten? This could be anything, maybe there was a ton of green salad left, or far too many rolls. Think about it, and create a solution to not repeat it. Whether it is to skip that dish all together, reduce the portion size, or put it in a better place. I stopped serving green salad at my parties because many people skipped it not wanting to mix it with other items on their plate.

Minimize the New. Thanksgiving is a traditional holiday comprised of family favorites, but it can be good to try something new. When it comes to introducing new dishes, don’t aim for too many. Humans are creatures of habit and will eat the familiar first and get full. This can leave the new dishes to be tried but maybe not devoured, often the first year I introduce a new dish it is just tasted which results in about half or more being left behind, even if guests said they enjoyed it. I would suggest trying to introduce your new dishes as an appetizer or at the front of the line, where guests are likely to put more of it on their plate.

Side Dish Serving Size. When it comes to your traditional side dishes plan about 3-4 oz per person, for those that are more filling such as pasta, potatoes or bread based plan for 2-3 oz per person. When it comes to how many side dishes, that is your choice. If you don’t want to many side dishes, ask individuals to bring dessert, drinks or tableware instead. Often, these items can fall to the host by default but some guests will be relieved to bring these simple items rather than a covered dish. Think about your college age, single, and newly baby having friends. If they aren’t likely to have the time or kitchen to fix a dish they will welcome bringing cups, napkins or gallons of tea.

laugenbrotchen-1122511_640Bread! I adore bread, but serving it beforehand will allow guests to over indulge on this fast filling item. Opt instead to serve it with the meal. Estimate about 1 ½ rolls per individual, some guests will avoid it all together while others will eat extra without thinking twice.

Dessert. How full are you by the time you even think about dessert? If you’re having a large main meal, minimize desserts as many guests may simply be far too full to even take a bite. Offer few options, if there is a family favorite make it the main dessert event, offering only one or two other options in smaller portions. Also, having it alongside the meal can help be sure it is eaten. Sometimes individuals return for second helpings without thinking about dessert. By putting it alongside the main meal, they can serve themselves when ready instead of forgetting and filling up beforehand.

We hope these tips will help decrease the leftovers that normally take over your fridge this time of year. If your still afraid of lots of leftovers, consider grabbing a few disposable containers and fix plates for guests to take home. In my family, some individuals will be working so we will send home plates for them. I never count them as guests, but always have enough to make up a few plates with a large variety of good food.

3 Sophisticated Sandwich Inspirations


November 3, 2016 marks National Sandwich Day. In celebration, we are sharing 3 inspiring recipes to add sophistication to your lunch box. These can also be served easily for impromptu guests or making use of holiday left overs when you never know who may be joining you for a meal.

Hot Ham & Swiss

Ham and Cheese on a croissant roll can be breakfast, lunch or dinner. This versatile sandwich can also bring a touch of sophistication to your lunch box or brunch. They can also be served on the side of a comfort soup in the winter for a very filling meal.

Hot Ham & Swiss          serves 4

4 Croissants (split horizontal)

8 Slices Swiss Cheese

1 lb. Broadbent Ham sliced to your preference

2 T Dijon Mustard

1 T honey

1 T Brown Sugar

Mix your honey, mustard and sugar in a small bowl. Spread onto your croissant then layer in your ham and cheese. We use 2 slices of Swiss one on each side of the ham, but feel free to use less. Wrap each sandwich in foil and place in an oven heated to 350 for 10-15 minutes for yummy perfection!

Avocado & Ham Sandwich

If you’re not a cheese lover, skip the traditional Swiss and instead try avocado. Avocado offers a slightly nutty and creamy flavor which complements the saltiness of ham well. This is a great way to use up leftover ham from holidays. Use a meat slicer, they sell them at most kitchen appliance stores and thinly slice the remaining portion of ham to use for sandwiches.

Avocado & Ham Sandwich      serves 6ham-avocado-sandwich-xl

¾ lb Broadbent Ham (thinly sliced)

2 Loaf Ficelle (or sub style bread of your choice)

2 tbsp. Dijon Mustard

Pinch of cracked pepper

3 Avocados

Cut bread loaves into thirds, you’ll get 6 pieces; slice for a horizontal opening. Stir together butter, pepper and mustard in a small dish then spread on individual breads. Layer on the ham and avocado.

Grilled Ham & Cheese with Honey Mustard Sauce

Grilled cheese is a fall favorite, but you can kick it up a few notches by adding ham and serving with a dipping sauce. This is a great idea for weekend lunches and sneaks in a vegetable that makes you feel like this sandwich is a little healthy.

Grilled Ham & Cheese with Honey Mustard Sauce                Serves 4

8 slices wheat bread

2 T butter (for buttering the outsides)grilled ham and cheese

1 lb. Broadbent Ham, sliced to your preference

8 Slices of Cheddar Cheese

1 c. Chopped Kale

Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce

1/4 C + 2 T Honey

¼ c Yellow Mustard

2 T Dijon Mustard

1 C Mayonnaise

Stir all ingredients for honey mustard dipping sauce together until smooth, store in a bowl until ready for use.

Spread a thin layer of the mixture on the insides of the bread slices. Layer the bread with ham and cheese topped off with a handful of Kale. Butter the outside portion of the bread slices. Then in a skillet over medium heat, cook the sandwiches on each side about 2-3 minutes each side. They are done when cheese is completely melted. Serve while hot, alongside the dipping sauce.

These tasty sandwiches are easy to whip up and most of the items are commonly found in the kitchen. Impress your family, friends or coworkers by stepping up your sandwich game. Feel free to tell them the idea just came to you, we won’t say a word. Happy National Sandwich Day!


halloween party (1)Are you ready for Halloween? Just a week away but it isn’t too late to add some spirit to your holiday. We are bumping up the holiday spirit with food of course. If you’re not having a party, try just adding fun to your meals that day. These are also great recipes to teach basic kitchen skills, so get the kids involved.

Olive & Cheese Kabobs Serves 8

kabobs32 Black Olives
4 oz Hickory Smoked Cheddar
8 Skewers (themed if you can find them)

Cut your cheddar into small squares about the size of an olive. Layer olives and cheese onto the skewers. The coloring adds to the Halloween theme and if you can find themed skewers they can go add more theme. This is also a great treat to break up the sugar.

*This can teach counting, basic knife skills and patterns.

Halloween Shaped Pancakes

Halloween-pancakes-3Our Broadbent Pancake Mix with a little help from your favorite Halloween cookies cutters can bring the Halloween theme to the breakfast table. The both the shapes and anti-shapes to achieve the look. All you need is our Pancake mix and stir in water until it reaches your desired consistency (easily pourable).

*The best skills pancakes teach us is patience, set a timer or count down with your child to flipping and removing. Let them cut out their own shapes and decorate them with various toppings.


Bacon Jalapeno Dip in a Baked Pumpkin 

2-3 lb. pumpkin, cleaned out

16 oz. cream cheese
2 C. Monterey jack or Mozzarella cheese, shredded
2 T. finely chopped jalapeno
2 T. finely chopped onion
1/2 C. cooked and crumbed Broadbent Hickory Bacon
3/4 C. Salsa Verde

Heat oven to 350. Place the cream cheese in a large microwave safe bowl and soften
on high for about 1 minute. Stir in the remaining ingredients.

Place the dip in the cleaned pumpkin and place it in a baking dish with 1 inch of water. Lightly cover the pumpkin with foil. Place the pumpkin and baking dish in the oven and bake for about one hour or until the dip is hot and beginning to bubble around the edges. I put the top of the pumpkin in the oven for the last 20 minutes so it looked baked too.

*Let your children draw and decorate a small jack-o-lantern to store the dip inside. Let them shred the cheese, and don’t be afraid to them mix things up with their clean hands! Cream cheese is a great texture experience.

Kids in the kitchen always adds fun, passing on the love of food and cooking is a family tradition at Broadbent. Show us how your family spends time together in the kitchen. Pictures are loved and appreciate whether in the comments or on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest.

5 Tips for hosting a Grown-up Halloween party

halloween party

Halloween is right around the corner, if you’ve decided (or decide at the last minute) to throw a party with an adult guest list we’ve got 5 Tips for you. We all know Halloween is associated with Ghosts, Ghouls and Goblins but we forget that it doesn’t have to be all about the kids. No matter your age, Halloween can be a fun time to share in the spirit of all things spooky, eerie and creepy.

#1 Create a Spooky Atmosphere

Skip the cartoon version of Halloween instead, opt to create an eerie and spooky mood. Choose a simple color scheme that compliments fall, use a lot of candles to provide a relaxed and dim lighting scheme and use natural fibers in your décor to have an older feel throughout your venue. If you are having a party in your home, focus your décor in the main areas and go all out instead of trying to cover the entire house. Always bring personal touches to your decorating, it will help guests remember it was your unique party.

#2 Get Creative with Cocktailsdrink 

If you’re group doesn’t drink, embrace themed non-alcoholic drinks. Either way make the beverages part of the experience. There are a number of Halloween themed cocktails across the web, including these 27 inspirations from HGTV. Let your glassware and serving ware get the Halloween treatment by including vials, beakers, dry ice and interestingly shaped stemware. Crystal skull containers also add a chill and can be filled with any color to offer a variety of looks.


#3 Theme Your Food

spider-eggsForget filling bowls with chips and candy, instead opt to create themed but sophisticated snacks. Depending on your skill level, try different types of treats. These Pumpkin Cheesecake Truffle Mummies are unique and delicious.  Deviled eggs get an extra creepy vibe with olives in this Spooky Spider Eggs recipe. Use small cookie cutters of fall or Halloween shapes to create cut outs from quality cheese, like our Hickory Smoked Cheddar. Our Summer Sausage pairs well with the hickory smoked cheddar and its simple round shape can frame the cheddar cutouts well.  If you’ve chosen fun dippables, then try offering a variety of dips. We offer several herb mixes that will spice up the party. Since it is Halloween, candy is often expected try our Old Kentucky Bourbon Chocolates. They offer a unique taste, and will be eaten so quick the kids will never find out.

If you are opting to serve a full meal, keep it simple with this Black Bean Pumpkin soup, it captures the spirit of the season and offers a canvas for decorating. Get colorful with spooky spaghetti and meatballs. Spaghetti noodles are easily dyed any color to fit your scheme. Be sure to dress the plates before serving, or serve family style from theme fitting bowls. If you don’t want to purchase all brand new dishware, try looking online or in local thrift shops to purchase low price but non-disposable items. Antiques can be of great use here, so you may check with family members to borrow as well.

#4 Offer an Activitymurder

If you’re looking to take your party over the top, give everyone a focal activity. Making your party a scavenger hunt, a murder mystery, or escape room style theme. If you’re not ready to make the whole party around the activity, try offering a game station. Set up horror movie trivia, Guess the Villain (a twist on Heads Up!) or a scary photo booth. Choose the right activities based on the interests and size of your group. If your planning for a large crowd, you may offer a few game options so that those interested can play what they want.

#5 Dress Up!

Don’t forget to mention that costumes are a must on the invite! As the host, don’t focus so much on the party that you forget yours either. Choose something that fits the theme. (Maybe skip the banana costume this year) If your hosting as a couple, be sure to dress that way, it will solidify that guests can identify you as the hosts. If your party has a theme such as celebrity, or zombies let guests know. Some common themes for more elegant costumes could be steampunk, 20s, masquerade, mermaid, vampires, gods or royals.

Halloween parties in the end are all about the fun! No one knows you or friends better, so pick your theme and costumes accordingly. An organized party can knock the socks off your guests, and if you’re going for big impact don’t be afraid to ask for help. Whether it is a party planner or just making a small group of 2-4 of you it can really take the pressure off one person to bring so many elements together.

Unique Foodie Gift Ideas

Unique FoodieThis time of year, gets everyone thinking of gift ideas. We often want to give gifts that people will enjoy receiving and will make a lasting memory. If you’re looking for a unique gift to make that lasting impression on your foodie friend or family member we’ve got a few suggestions.

Milk Chocolate Bacon Barkbacon bark 

These treats combine two savory flavors, chocolate and bacon. The sweet and salty combination is made up of our hickory smoked bacon and a smooth creamy milk chocolate coating. The bag is the right size for the flavor packed in the punch. You’ll receive 2-5 oz. packages so you can spread the love among two individuals or perhaps keep one for yourself.


Marker’s Mark Bourbon Flavored Gourmet Saucemakersmark

This rich and savory sauce is made with America’s award-winning Marker’s Mark Bourbon Whisky. Let this sauce bring a traditional Kentucky flavor to your table. It compliments well to beef, poultry, seafood or BBQ. This gift is wonderful for grill lovers, Bourbon lovers, or just anyone who loves to try new things.


Broadbent’s Favoritesbb combo

This meaty combination offers the three top selling Broadbent products packaged in one delicious gift box. Containing 2- 14 oz. packs of Hickory Smoked Bacon, 2 lb. roll of Grandma Broadbent’s Smoked Country Sausage, and 2 lbs. uncooked sliced center ham steaks this box makes a wonderful gift for co-workers, bosses, and meat lovers.





Breakfast Combo

If you’ve got a friend or family member who is always raving about breakfast, this is the gift for them. Whether they decide to have breakfast or briner it will be a meal filled with flavor. This combination includes 10 oz. Country Ham Breakfast Steaks, 14 oz. Hickory Smoked Bacon, 14 oz. Peppered Bacon, and a 2 lb. roll of Grandma Broadbent’s Smoked Country Sausage. This combo makes a great family gift, company gift or just for anyone who appreciates high quality meats.


These are just a few of the products we offer, each of these offers a unique flavor that food lovers can appreciate. See all our gifts of great taste here, we’ve got products for any holiday budget. We aim for our products to reach each of our customers as soon as possible, for a better estimate of delivery times click here.  The holiday season is right around the corner, and we hope you can find a gift inspiration with Broadbent.

What are the Best Meats to Serve at Christmas Dinner?

Christmas Meats

Christmas is coming, and you know what that means, right? Christmas dinner is one of the biggest meals of the year, as people all over the country take time out of their hectic lives to cook for friends and families. What are some of the best meats to serve at Christmas dinner?


Well, Broadbent’s award-winning country ham, bacon and sausage are definitely in the running for best meats. Sure, you’re probably used to turkey or ham for dinner, but why not mix things up a bit and add bacon or sausage to this year’s Christmas dinner?


Known for Kentucky hams, Broadbent’s is able to ship meats across the United States, in time for your Christmas dinner. From the homebase in Kuttawa, Kentucky, Broadbent’s pre-cooked country hams can be delivered to your door. Choose boneless, semi-boneless or pre-sliced and know this: Broadbent’s country ham is dry cured, hickory smoked and aged to perfection. Wouldn’t it taste good this Christmas?


Additionally, consider Broadbent’s specialty bacon, including the old-fashioned country smoked version which has been made the same way for at least 100 years. Hand rubbed with dry cure ingredients, country smoked bacon is slow smoked and salty– a real treat for bacon lovers this Christmas.


Finally, Broadbent’s hickory smoked sausage would make a fine addition to your Christmas dinner this year. Nitrite free, Broadbent’s country park sausage comes in old-fashioned cloth bags, which is something you don’t see everyday.


Whether you like ham, bacon or sausage, or even turkey breast, which Broadbent’s also supplies, keep in mind the clock is ticking and before you know it Christmas day will arrive. It’s best to get your order in now, in time for the big day.



Why Do We Eat Ham On Easter?


Easter HamFor most people in the United States, tasty ham is the quintessential Easter dinner meat. Enjoyed by many Americans, ham is often taken for granted, and not many people think about why it plays such an important role on Easter and other Christian holidays.


Jesus himself probably didn’t eat ham at the last supper. Pork was prohibited among the Jewish people, and Jesus considered himself one of them. Instead of ham, most Jewish ceremonies and many current European traditions call for lamb. Remnants of this tradition can still be found even in ham dinners, which often feature an appearance by the infamous butter lamb.


However, many accounts claim that, because the early Christian sect of Judaism thrived on welcoming all types of people into the fold, they didn’t want to exclude pork from the Christian diet. After all, many gentiles at the time enjoyed pork. It is said that the first official recognition of the Easter ham came in the 10th century, in the form of a blessing.


In many cultures, especially European ones, pigs are a wider symbol of good fortune. It might not seem too obvious, but think about it next time you see a child drop some change into a “piggy bank”.


Aside from the symbolic value of pigs, many people point to more practical reasons for their strong Easter presence. In Northern Europe, pigs would be slaughtered during winter, then salted and smoked similar to the way they are today. By the time lent ended, the delicious ham would be ready to enjoy, celebrating the beginning of the spring season. The practice was transferred over the Atlantic to America along with the host of other traditions that make up our cultural heritage.


Whether it was early Christians setting themselves apart by embracing ham, or practical Northern Europeans timing the curing process for coming of the spring season, the most important thing is that generations of families have firmly planted ham as a major Easter staple.


At Broadbent’s, we have a fine selection of both salty city hams and sweet country hams that will bring your Easter dinner to the next level. From our table to yours, Happy Easter and thanks for reading!


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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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This Thanksgiving, Give Thanks for Ham


Thanksgiving HamWhen thinking ahead to Thanksgiving dinner, the meat that comes to most people’s mind is – I won’t even say the word. Here at Broadbent’s, we’re all about ham, not those large birds that make for the centerpieces of so many American Thanksgiving dinners. Sure, it’s true that turkey (fine, I said it) played an important role in early American settlement, with Native Americans introducing the game bird to arriving settlers for the first time. But ham, and pork in general, was a big part of the legendary cultural exchange as well.


The first pigs arrived to the New World with none other than Christopher Columbus, on his second voyage to the Caribbean. Released onto the island of Hispaniola (now Haiti and the Dominican Republic), eight pigs multiplied rapidly. They were distributed to nearby islands for meat over time. It took almost 50 years after Columbus for Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto to finally deliver pigs to the present-day United States, arriving from Cuba to explore the Southeast. De Soto seems to have been quite the pig enthusiast. He presented them to the natives as gifts and died with hundreds of them in his possession.


The iconic settlement at Jamestown in 1607 seems to have been when pigs really began to take hold as an American staple. The John Smith-led English settlers introduced pigs to the Virginia forests, where the climate made it an ideal feeding and breeding ground for the animal. It soon became an autumn tradition to round up the fattened pigs for slaughter. Native Americans, having long used salt to preserve the wild game they hunted, worked with settlers to preserve the pork. As other Native American and European influences made their way into the process, the country ham emerged. Salt pork became a major food staple for American settlers, playing a critical role in their survival and expansion.


About seven miles from Jamestown, just down the James River towards the Atlantic, settlers garrisoned a lookout point on an island to warn of approaching threats. To protect wandering pigs from being stolen, the settlers transferred them to this garrison. It came to be known as Hog Island, serving as a fertile breeding ground and storage point for the pigs. Today, Hog Island is a Virginia state waterfowl refuge.


See what I mean? Pork and ham played as important a role in the early American story as anything else, including the more popular Thanksgiving staple. The country ham might not exist without the blending of American cultures. And who knows if the United States as we know it would exist without ham. Give ham the historical credit it deserves by serving one at your Thanksgiving table.


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