Country Ham Quiche!

Since I grew up in Kentucky and have lived here all of my life, at one time I never really realized that not everyone had access to or was familiar with country ham.   Country ham is Kentucky, maybe more than bourbon, horses and tobacco.  

 I have since learned that country ham is fairly regional.  When you go past the Mason Dixon line north or to the west, it sort of starts to fade away.  Really surprising is that it's also not very available in Mississippi, Louisiana and much of Alabama.  

 I am not completely sure why this is, but I have  a theory that it has to do with the saying ...."It's cold enough to kill hogs in here".   Have you ever heard someone say that about a cold room?  Well, it had to be really cold before you could kill hogs because the process of dressing the meat and such took some time and if it was too warm, the meat would ruin.  Maybe it wasn't cold enough in those coastal states to cure the meat?  I am not really sure. 

I am told that my grandfather was well known for wonderful country hams and smoked shoulders.  He killed five to six hogs each winter.  That might seem like a lot, but he had 11 kids to feed. 

 According to my aunts, his secret was using both hickory and sassafras woods and he used the roots of the sassafras tree not just the limbs.  It gave the meat a very unique flavor.   Everybody around wanted the secret to his smoking technique.   

You may have heard the saying, 'they used every part of the hog, but the squeal",   according to my mother...they did. Which probably explains my excessive use of  bacon and ham in my's genetic! 

Of course, now days you can order country ham online, but I am not sure a lot of people would know what to do with it.  Somebody asked me today, what makes Kentucky cuisine so different from other areas, and I have decided that a big part of it is the country ham (and so much more).  We fry it, bake it, and use it to season everything from dried beans to green beans and just any kind of fresh greens like collards, mustard or turnip greens.   That's why any discussion of foods for a Kentucky Derby celebration, party or tea must include country ham!   You will find the usual country ham and biscuits and there is nothing wrong with that at all, but this is the use of country ham in a quiche and it really makes this quiche extra good. 

Here is what you will need:
Country ham (just the biscuit slices is enough), eggs, half and half, butter, sour cream, pie crust, cheddar cheese, Swiss cheese, salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, Tabasco sauce.


1 deep dish pie crust
2 Tbs. butter
1 1/2 cups chopped country ham
4 eggs
1 cup half and half
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup cheddar cheese
1 cup Swiss cheese
1/2 tsp. seasoned salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
dash of cayenne pepper
dash of Tabasco sauce

Melt 2 Tbs. butter in a skillet.  Wash the ham slices off.  Country ham tends to be very salty and can be a little gritty out of the package so it needs to be rinsed off.  Chop it up and saute it in the butter.  Country ham is a cured meat, but it is not fully cooked. 

Beat the eggs with a whisk, add half and half, sour cream, seasoned salt, pepper cayenne and Tabasco sauce and whisk until well blended.   Place the pie crust in a deep pie plate or you can use a frozen deep dish pie crust. 

Place the pie plate on a cookie sheet or pizza pan.  The quiche cooks more evenly like this and it's easier to move in and out of the oven.
Place the ham with the butter in the bottom of the crust.  Sprinkle both cheeses over the ham.  Pour the egg mixture over all. 
Place in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 50-55 minutes.  If it starts to brown on top too much and is not done in the center, place a piece of foil lightly over the top.  Usually this doesn't happen, but all ovens vary.

Let the quiche sit for 5 to 10 minutes before slicing and it will come out much easier.   For a Derby Tea these could be made in a mini muffin pan for mini quiches, just chop the ham a little finer.

Slice and serve!  I served it with fried potatoes! 


  1. What a great story about the country ham! The only ham I've ever had is the honey baked spiral ones. But now you've got me curoius and I'd like to try the country ham now. The way your grandfather smoked it sounds so interesting. Love the bit about the cold and the hogs too! Your quiche looks so delicious and I'm going to save the recipe. Thanks!

  2. Thank you, Diane for taking time to read and comment on my story about my grandfather and his country hams. I have been asking a lot of questions about such things since starting this blog and if nothing else, I am learning so much more about my family's history. If they don't have country ham where you live, you can order it online now from a few places. The quiche recipe is good with what we call 'city ham' also, but the country ham just gives it great flavor. Thank you for your comments!

    1. Country ham is salt cured not smoked

    2. Country ham in our area is both, cured and smoked in a smoke house.

  3. Thanks for the posts we love Country Ham we are from KY just moved to TX. Only been here for a few months we bought country ham with us. I have a bone getting ready to cook pinto beans. And another thing here is they don't know how to do BBQ I'm use to pork BBQ not beef and beef brisket. Miss my pork BBQ. I cook country ham for our friends and some of them don't like it. Oh and of course biscuits and red eye gravy.

  4. Country ham is salt cured and not smoked, It's rubbed with salt then packed in salt for about 2 weeks. Then you take it out wash it off and let dry, then you rub it down with molasses and alot of black pepper, put it in a large paper bag, such as an old ice bag. The ones you had before plastic. You then seal the bag, and hang it in a cool dry place to cure for about 2 or 3 months.

    1. Larry, country ham where you are from might just be salt cured, but in Kentucky, they are cured and smoked. It turns the meat a deep red color and give it a rich flavor you do not get with just curing it. My grandfather was legendary for his country hams, as I told about in this post, he used hickory and sassafras woods. I do know that in the Carolinas they just salt cure their 'country hams', but that is not done here in Kentucky much.

  5. I love Kentucky Legend Ham's that I have found at Wal-Mart. They may be a little pricy but well worth it. I had one for the holidays and the family just loved it, in fact so much that I had none left. That has never happened. So try this ham, you won't be disappointed.

    1. For a baked ham, Kentucky Legend's are my favorite. They are not country ham though.

  6. I am going to make this this weekend. I have lived in NC all my life and love salty ham aka country ham. I remember growing up my mom's friend had a hog farm. I saw 1 be killed and that was enough for me. But sure love to eat it ;) Thanks for your story

  7. Kathy, I remember my grandfather....who was in Whitley township Greene County, Pennsyvania....just over the WV border...When I was a little girl...We would go there and they would have a pigs head hanging on the clothes line....they smoked their own pigs...and used everything.................great story, I love it.......

  8. I think it would be good to add a little chopped onions also!

  9. Being raised in rural S.C., I was raised on country ham that my father cured himself. Butchering day was a big day in our household. It included all of the family and everyone had their job to do. I will try this recipe as I keep country ham on hand most of the time. I purchase it in SC and bring it back to Colorado where I live now. Would be interested to see any other recipes you might have for this delicacy.

  10. I live in Alabama now, but I plan to visit family in KY soon. I'll be bringing back some Harper's Country Ham. Can't wait to try it in this quiche!

  11. We have plenty of country ham in Alabama....always have had. And we do kill hawgs here. But you won't find whole country hams hangin up much in a store....

  12. I just looked at a country ham today and did buy some slices to take home. It was at K-Mart in Taylor, Michigan. The brand was Smithfield. I also saw they have jowl bacon which is hard to find here and which decent green beans can't live without. When I lived in Kentucky, we loved Harper's Country Ham. I will try the quiche!

  13. I have to disagree with your comment to Larry that smoking is the Kentucky way to cure a ham. That may be true for your neck of the woods but I too was born and raised in Kentucky and everyone we knew that killed hogs salt cured their hams. I don't disagree that smoking can be done but to say that salt curing isn't a Kentucky thing is very much untrue.

    1. You misread what I said. What I said is that in Kentucky they are cured AND smoked. My grandfather salt cured his hams and placed them in a smokehouse to smoke also. This process is what makes country ham, different from just smoked ham...the salt curing. I never said salt curing was not part of the process.



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