Taste: Eat This Now: Country Ham

“You just don’t see much country ham being used in Philadelphia,” says chef Erin O’Shea, of West Philly BYO Marigold Kitchen. So last winter, the Maryland native and Virginia-trained chef decided to introduce us Northerners to some of her favorite Down South varieties by way of a $12 tasting plate, which showcases a rotating selection of cured hams more reminiscent of prosciutto than of Easter dinner. The plate allows you to savor the differences between, say, a brown-sugar-cured, hickory-smoked mild ham from Kentucky and a pungent salt-and-pepper-cured, year-aged variety from Virginia. Or you can ham it up even more with the $50 five-course ham tasting menu O’Shea unveils this month. It includes the tasting plate, veggies tossed in a ham vinaigrette, halibut in ham broth with fava beans, chicken breast stuffed with Father’s Country Ham, and … an old-farm-style rhubarb tart. Because even a ham fan like O’Shea knows the rule about too much of a good thing: “Ham just shouldn’t be in some places.”

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