When my friend Vanessa said she would be stopping by Polyface Farm on her way back home from her trek south, I knew I had to have her pick me up some goodies!

For those of you not in the know, Polyface Farm was featured in the book The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan.  He called it “exemplary sustainable agriculture.” It is seriously living with the land instead of taking and not giving back.

The owner, Joel Salatin, is highly influenced by religion in his approach to farming and to the land.  He firmly believes that his Christian religion directs how he raises and slaughters his animals and gives back to the earth.  While I am usually extremely skeptical of anyone who claims God is their driving force, I have to admit that the Salatin family is walking the walk.

Vanessa brought us back eggs, ham, two chickens – one old stewing hen and a fryer – as well as bacon (chunks and sliced,) pork ribs, and ground beef.  Quite the picnic basket!

Tonight we went for the ham.

This was NOT your basic grocery store ham steak.  First off, the curing ingredients were salt, sugar, and pepper.  That’s it.

From a leading retailer: Cured with Water, Contains less than 2% of Salt, Sugar, Potassium Lactate, Dextrose, Sodium Phosphate, Potassium Chloride, Sodium Diacetate, Sodium Erythorbate, Sodium Nitrite.

Salt, sugar, and pepper.  What a concept.

And we tasted the difference right away.  These were probably aged at least 8 months and probably longer.  They tasted like real pork with a wild, natural flavor that can’t be mimicked or recreated in a chemistry lab.  They were salty without being salty.  Sweet without being sweet.  They were properly dry and had a consistency that almost verged on a prosciutto, and if they hung for several more months, that’s probably what we would have.  The last time I had a ham steak like this was probably in Brown County, Indiana at the Nashville House.  First time I ever had red gravy and fried biscuits with baked apple butter.

You heard right – fried biscuits.  They rock.  Totally.

I could see this ham cut into a julienne and being mixed with pasta or cubed and cooked into a real macaroni and cheese.  Lots of possibilities.

I’m looking forward to working my way through the rest of the goodies in the coming weeks.