Country ham recipe slow-cooks with help from a sleeping bag : NPR
Linda Ishmael/Collage by NPR
All Things We’re Cooking is a series featuring family recipes from you, our readers and listeners, and the special stories behind them. We’ll continue to share more of your kitchen gems throughout the holidays.
When Linda Ishmael was growing up, her family’s Christmas celebrations always included “putting the ham to sleep” to get it ready for the holiday dinner, when dozens of family members would visit their Kentucky farm.
The sleep process is a method of slow-cooking a salt-cured country ham for 24 hours that Ishmael said hearkens back to pioneer cooking.
“It was a way for the women to cook a lot of dishes at once,” Ishmael said. “They could put the ham up somewhere else to slow cook while they used their oven to cook other things.”
Ishmael lives in Flemingsburg, Ky., just about 4 miles from where he grew up on hundreds of acres of land with his parents, siblings, aunt, uncle, cousins and grandparents. Out of all the kids, Ishmael said, she was the only one interested in being in the kitchen with her grandmother.
“I would leave my house and go up, either walk or bicycle up, to my grandparents’ home … so I was always there,