Southern Maryland Stuffed Ham – A Holiday Tradition
There are a lot of stories to tell about our Christmas holiday – the group song, Christmas eve’s walk in the snow, the vegan Mennonite fondue supper (what? yes), the emergency vet appointment in Delaware.
Or some of the zillion stories about our 16 family members – from ten to eighty-three, each so dear and special. The piles of presents and delicious desserts, duets and violin and piano. Etc.
But all I can think about right now is the stuffed ham.
My sister brought some Southern Maryland Stuffed Ham – a cultural culinary staple from St. Mary’s County – on “the other side”. It’s a long-standing winter favorite in the southern reaches of tidewater Maryland.
Slits cut in a circular fashion from the center out of a large ham are stuffed with a spicy kale and fish pepper mixture. Then the ham is wrapped and boiled. When cool, the long slices of pink ham with spirals of hot greens are a spicy wintertime treat. You close your eyes when you eat it.
These recipes are treasured and the greens and peppers are mixed by hand, deep in huge bowls, by generation after generation of southern cooks. Everyone has their own blend, of course – of kale and collards and peppers and spice. And that makes them endlessly desirable, since each offers its own version of deliciousness.
This one is from McKay’s Grocery in California, MD – a longtime local St. Mary’s County grocery outlet. It’s an autumn – Thanksgiving through Christmas offering, which is yet another reason to love it – you can’t just find it any old day. It’s special.
Like tomatoes, sweet corn, hard crabs and blackberries, there’s a certain time of the year for Southern Maryland Stuffed Ham. And it’s over really soon.