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Ham and Sage Ponice

2 lb Smoked ham hocks or smoked pork neck bones
12 c Water
2 tb Minced fresh sage or 2 teaspoons dried rubbed sage
2 1/2 c Yellow cornmeal
2 tb Butter; (about)
Maple syrup


Combine smoked ham and 12 cups water in heavy large saucepan or Dutch oven. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer until ham is very tender and cooking liquid is reduced to 8 cups, about 1 1/2 hours. Transfer ham to bowl, using slotted spoon. Cool slightly. Cut meat from bones; chop meat coarsely.

Skim fat from cooking liquid. Bring liquid to boil. Add sage. Reduce heat to medium. Gradually whisk in cornmeal. Cook until mixture thickens, stirring constantly, about 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat. Season cornmeal mixture to taste with salt and pepper. Add chopped ham and stir vigorously until combined. Pour mixture into two 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pans. Refrigerate ponice until set. (Can be prepared 2 days ahead. Cover with plastic and refrigerate. )

Turn out ponice and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add ponice and cook until brown, adding more butter as necessary, about 5 minutes per side. Serve, passing maple syrup.

Makes 2 loaves.


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