COUNTRY HAM STUFFING (enough to stuff an 18 to 20 pound turkey plus a 3 to 4 quart baking dish)
Using a curing method borrowed from Native Americans, who had used the method on venison for centuries, European colonists transferred the technique to pigs. By the mid 1700s hams were being produced on large scale in the small tidewater town of Smithfield, Virginia. While Smithfield hams became the standard for southern country hams, excellent long-cured country hams now are produced in many places throughout the south.
8 cups ½ inch cubes of day old homemade type white bread
8 cups ½ inch cubes of day old whole wheat bread
2 pounds boneless cooked or uncooked Smithfield or other country ham, cut into ¼ inch dice (country ham steaks can be ordered on line through Amazon – if that’s too much trouble, substitute ham steaks from your local supermarket)
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter
4 onions, chopped
8 ribs celery, chopped
5 tablespoons minced fresh sage leaves or 5 teaspoons crumbled dried
3 teaspoons dried thyme, crumbled
1. In a shallow baking pan, arrange the bread cubes in one layer, bake them in a preheated 325* oven, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 15 minutes, or until they are golden, and transfer them to a large bowl.
2. In a large skillet saute the ham in the butter over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 10 minutes, or until it is deep red and the edges are crisp, and transfer it with a slotted spoon to the bowl.
3. To the fat remaining in the skillet, add the onions, celery, sage and thyme and cook the mixture over moderate heat, stirring, until the onions are softened and transfer the mixture to the bowl.
4. Toss the stuffing well, season it to taste with salt and pepper and let it cool completely. The stuffing can be made 1 day in advance and kept, covered and chilled. (To prevent bacterial growth, do not stuff turkey cavities in advance.)
adapted from Gourmet Magazine, November, 1992