As usual, the fall has flown by, and we are on the brink of the Christmas and New Year's holidays. Usually at Flying Goat Farm, Devin and I force our family to come to us to celebrate. It's difficult to leave the farm overnight, and we enjoy spending the holidays with our human and animal families.
One of our Christmas traditions for a good number of years now is a fairly extravagant Christmas morning breakfast/brunch. On the menu: roast ham, eggs many ways, fresh bread and/or biscuits, home fires, fruit, coffee, yogurt, granola, and other breakfast goodies that we happen to have around.
Historically, for us, Christmas breakfast is all about the pig. Usually, the piglets that we have raised since the spring go in the freezer by or around Thanksgiving, and we receive all of our cuts back after smoking before Christmas. We usually do something a little different each year with the main event of the ham, and Christmas breakfast often also includes bacon and breakfast sausage.
The first decision with our main dish is: Smoked or Fresh? In my experience, fresh hams are a bit less common to come by if you don't go directly to your butcher or raise your own animals. Advantages of smoked hams are that if they are hot smoked (as most smoked meats are), they are completely cooked beforehand, and you don't have to worry quite as much about internal temperature of the fully cooked final product. But on the other hand, you are working with the flavor of the smoking process (which admittedly can be delicious!) along with whatever seasonings or glazes you might be adding during the roasting process. This year, we used the smoke house at East Conway Beef for our smoking, and the flavor we've had of everything so far has been delicious.
A fresh ham is a clean slate that can be flavored in any way you like. Sometimes, a store ham can be a bit on the lean side for cooking only in the oven, but with our hams this year, I have no worries about the meat getting dry in the oven- the pigs we raised this year have a beautiful layer of fat on the outside which should ensure a tender, moist finished dish. Fresh ham should be cooked for 18-20minutes per pound and to a final internal temperature of 145°F, followed by a 3 minute rest before slicing, as recommended by the USDA.
So we haven't officially decided yet whether this year's Christmas breakfast ham is going to be fresh or smoked. Devin is loving the smoke flavor of this year's meat, but I may be pushing to try this recipe for Fresh Ham with Maple-Balsamic Glaze that I found on the NYT online.
Either way, if you're interested in the results, we are likely to post photos on our Facebook or instagram pages... But would you believe that I don't have a photo of any of our Hams of Christmas Past!? And if you'd like to try some FGF pork with your Christmas (or any!) breakfast, visit us at the Wentworth Greenhouses Farmers' Market tomorrow!