I am listening to Jacques Pepin on one of my food podcasts this morning and he is talking about what cooks really need to do is keep it simple. No asparagus foams or blood orange coulee. Just roast a chicken and serve it right up. And I wondered if my ham salad qualifies. I would be interested to know if Jacques Pepin actually has ever had ham salad. Or if he knows Mrs. Grissom.
Everyone in the South knows Mrs. Grissom. She started out as the pimento cheese lady and then she ventured into chicken salad and, finally, ham salad. Which is where my husband met her. Not actually. But there isn’t a supermarket below the Mason-Dixon line that doesn’t carry her products. And she’s a feisty old broad, still showing up at her factory in Nashville well into her nineties. The other day Mark was pining away for some Mrs. Grissom’s ham salad and I went to my beloved Publix to get some. And, shockingly, they didn’t have any. Maybe other people were also having Mrs. Grissom’s ham salad attacks and they had run out. I don’t know.
So I decided to make my own and this is so simple I am almost embarrassed to post this but if you, too, are having a ham salad attack one day and cannot find Mrs. Grissom’s you can make your own ham salad too.
First you have to start out with a very humble ham steak. I think this one cost $3.49. You may not think you’ve seen this, but you have. It’s the thing you walk by and wonder, “Who ever buys that?” I do. Mark just loves it simply fried in a cast iron skillet. Once you get it home, do the same thing. Fry it. It only takes about 2 minutes on each side. And then let it cool, trim the fat and remove the bone.
And then all you do is cut it into pieces, put it in your food processor and pulse until the ham is chopped very fine but hasn’t turned to mush. I like to keep things simple where ham salad is concerned. No pickle relish or chopped hard-boiled egg. Just mayonnaise and a little Durkee’s. Durkee’s is probably a story all by itself, but I’ll save that for another day.
There is no recipe here. Just add as much mayonnaise as you like in a ham salad and then add a touch of Durkee’s or plain yellow mustard if you don’t have the Famous Sauce. Taste it before you add any salt. Sometimes the ham is salty enough already.
As I said, I was not actually thinking of blogging about something so simple, but this morning Mark got out the last of the ham salad and started eating it on crackers for breakfast. Really? “This is the best ham salad I’ve ever had,” he mumbled as a few stray cracker crumbs hit the kitchen floor. Really? Better than Mrs. Grissom’s? I hope she doesn’t read this. I’d hate to give her a heart infarction or something.