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.
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.