Recipes from the Ladies (and some men) of Lynchburg
Mary Ruth's Fried Pies
Mary Ruth Hall has been a hostess at Miss Mary Bobo's since 1984. Before that she was a Moore County extension agent for 33 years. So she really knows how to cook.
Every year, Mary Ruth and other members of her church in Lynchburg make thousands of fried pies to sell at the Annual Jack Daniel's World Championship Invitational Barbecue as a church fundraiser. Making all those fried pies is hard work, and it's taken its toll on her hands--she's just undergone surgery for carpel tunnel syndrome!
For months before the big barbecue, the church ladies make thousands of pies and stockpile their freezers. The ladies freeze them raw and fry them in skillets of hot oil the day before the barbecue. It's a big job. Many fry them at home and others gather in the church kitchen. Luckily, the church added a few extra power outlets for the electric skillets. They've been known to blow a fuse or two.
Mary Ruth says the secret to a good fried pie--just like any pie--is good crust. Her family isn't too keen on pumpkin pie so they have fried pies with ice cream for Thanksgiving dessert instead.
Margaret Tolley's Holiday Divinity
Jimmy Bedford, the Master Distiller at Jack Daniel's, has a farm right outside Lynchburg where he raises cattle. One of his hobbies on the farm is to cure and smoke his own country hams.
Unfortunately, this year, he's been traveling a good bit and didn't have to time to fix the usual 100 hams, but only about 15 or so. We imagine there will be quite a few Lynchburg folks scrambling to find a good ham this season.
Curing country ham is a lot like whiskey making. It's an art form passed down from generation to generation. The ingredients are simple; it's how you put them together that counts. Of course, Mother nature is your partner throughout the process.
In a nutshell, country ham curing in an important part of history in the mid Southern states like Tennessee, North Carolina, Virginia and Kentucky because the weather is just right. The winters are cold, but not too cold, and the summers are hot and humid.
A country ham begins in January, when it's good and cold outside, with the salting. Usually you have to keep a green ham in meat packing salt about 1 1/2 days per pound -- for a 20 pound ham that's a good month. Then February, you wash it off and rub it with a mixture of black and red pepper and cover it with a mesh bag. Hang it in the smokehouse for a few weeks to let the salt equalize throughout the ham. Next in the early spring, to give the ham a nice smoky flavor, get some hickory chips burning and blow the smoke into the smokehouse for about three days. Then just close up the smokehouse and don't even think about the hams until after the 4th of July. The salt, humidity and summer weather are busy at work. The hams are hanging in there sweating and dripping in the heat. And don't let a little mold scare you. It's supposed to be there. By the time folks enjoy them for the holidays, the hams are a good 25% lighter.
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Lynchburg (Pop. 361), Tennessee. Established and Registered in 1866.