March 01, 2005
Hackensack, New Jersey
Think the finest Virginia hams come from Smithfield? Ask someone in Smithfield and they'll probably send you 10 miles up the road to the single traffic light town of Surry and the S. Wallace Edwards and Sons smokehouse.
The Edwards family has been curing their own country hams for nearly 80 years, starting when S. Wallace, a ferryboat captain, served ham sandwiches to passengers. Today, it's his grandson, Sam, producing a limited number of traditional hams each year, following the hands-on approach to curing in salt, bathing in hickory smoke and aging for several seasons.
The result is a firm, mahogany-colored meat with an intoxicating aroma and a wonderfully clean, robust salty-smoky essence that also bring out unexpected flavors in almost any dish served with it.
Edwards' Virginia hams come cooked or uncooked, boneless or bone-in (get the bone - it's great for soup later), and in various stages of aging and weight. The Signature Wigwam Brand ham, which is aged for a year, weighs about 15 pounds and retails for $69.95. The family's homemade bacon and sausages are also available on the company's website.