Figs and Country Ham

Figs and Country Ham

Beans, Greens, and Sweet Georgia PeachesSouthern country ham and Italian prosciutto are very much alike. In the South, in season, country ham is sometimes served with fresh fruit, just as its Italian cousin is. Even out of season, a fruit conserve will be passed along with it. Here it is happily paired with succulent, sweet, perfectly ripe figs. I like to also pass warm Corn Sticks (page 40) with this.

The ingredients are few, but the strength of this dish lies entirely in the quality of those few ingredients: the figs must be perfectly ripe, the ham of the best quality--not too salty with just an undertone of sweet smokiness--and the butter fresh and creamy.

4 large, ripe figs (or 8, if they are small)
2 lemons
16 paper-thin slices of raw (preferable) or cooked country ham
1/4 pound unsalted butter, softened
Black pepper in a peppermill

1. Cut the figs lengthwise into quarters and lemons into 8 wedges.

2. Fold the ham slices double and arrange them 4 per plate on salad plates, folded side out and centers overlapping. Arrange the figs and lemons in an alternating pinwheel pattern on top of the ham.

3. Whip the butter until fluffy and light, and put a large dollop in the center of each plate. Serve at once, passing the peppermill or a shaker of freshly ground pepper separately.

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Excerpted from BEANS GREENS AND SWEET GEORGIA PEACHES by Damon Lee Fowler Copyright© 1998 by Damon Lee Fowler. Excerpted by permission of Broadway, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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