It’s a veritable who’s who list of Kentucky chefs: Dean Corbett, Shawn Ward, Mark Stevens, Ouita Michel, Richard Lewis and Jay Denham. All of them will join forces for a special dinner to celebrate the release of Steve Coomes’ new book, “Country Ham: A Southern Tradition of Hogs, Salt & Smoke.”
And if you are wondering whether the seven-course dinner will include some ham, the answer is yes. In fact, it’s going to include a lot of ham.
The dinner is scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 28, at Corbett’s: An American Place. Each chef will prepare a course, and the evening will begin with a 6:30 p.m. reception in the Corbett’s courtyard, where guests will enjoy passed hors d’oeuvres, bourbon cocktails and Prosecco. The dinner will be held in Corbett’s main dining room and include dishes accented by smoked cured Kentucky hams.
For the chefs (and the author as well), it is not just a chance to get creative with a Southern staple, it’s also a chance to reconnect with old friends.
“Mark, Richard, Steve and I cooked together at Sixth Avenue in the early 1980s,” Dean Corbett said in a press release about the event, “so since we go a long way back together, this gives us an excuse to throw a great party.”
To center the collaboration around “Country Ham: A Southern Tradition of Hogs, Salt & Smoke” was an easy sell: “When I talked to the other chefs about doing a dinner that tied into Steve’s book, they all wanted in because we love cooking together and we love country ham,” Corbett said.
Coomes’ book details the South’s centuries-old country ham culture and the people who still practice the ancient art of curing hindquarters. Guests at the dinner will share platters of country ham from multiple Kentucky producers, and listen to Denham, one of the nation’s premier ham makers, explain the unique nuances of each.
Guests also will meet Ronnie and Beth Drennan, owners of Broadbent’s Country Hams and 2014 Kentucky State Fair Country Ham Grand Champions.
Coomes points out that the perception of country ham in the South is a bit skewed. His book, and this dinner, bring that point to light.
“What we take for granted in the South as ‘just country ham,’ is regarded by chefs around the nation as a treasure, a sort-of American prosciutto,” Coomes, who is a regular contributor to Insider Louisville, said. “While it’s often cooked here, chefs elsewhere serve it as charcuterie so diners can experience its full flavor and texture. There will be a lot of examples of both preparation styles during this dinner.”
Cost of the dinner is $95 per person, which includes wine and cocktail pairings with each course, and a signed copy of Coomes’s book. (Tax and gratuity are not included.) Reservations can be made by calling Corbett’s at 502-327-5058. Corbett’s is located at 5050 Norton Healthcare Blvd.
Here is a preview of the evening’s menu:
Stevens: Country ham fritter with corn relish.
Lewis: “Ham and Egg,” on toasted brioche, sliced ham, garnish of salt-cured eggs.
Denham: Bruschetta of grilled peaches, pickled peppers and Woodlands Pork Back Bacon.
Corbett: Choice of Corbett’s Bourbon Lemonade Hayride or Prosecco.
Appetizer: A Discussion of Kentucky Country Hams
Denham: Platters of three famed Kentucky hams (Woodlands Pork, Broadbent’s Country Ham and Col. Bill Newsom’s Aged Kentucky Country Ham) served with pickled fruits and vegetables, Midway School Bakery beaten biscuits, paired with Old Forester Bourbon cocktail.
Stevens: House-made ravioli stuffed with baby spinach, ricotta cheese, butternut squash served with browned butter, sage and country ham twille, paired with rosé.
Michel: Organic Woodford County Kale, wilted with sorghum vinaigrette, tossed with Happy Jack’s charred sweet corn, roasted peppers, smoked baby cherry tomatoes, Good Shepherd cheese and shaved country ham, paired with sauvignon blanc.
Corbett: Melon and country ham sorbet.
Ward: Seared diver scallop with kohlrabi puree, truffled ham broth, bean salad, garnish of country ham chips, paired with chardonnay.
Lewis: Beignets tossed with country ham “dust” and powdered sugar, accompanied by red-eye ice cream, paired with Corbett’s coffee and Herradura Tequila Añejo.
Michel: Mignardise of Midway School Bakerysweet-and-savory corn cookies.