Blue-Ribbon Hams

Featured Article, Food and Travel, Heroes, Local Heroes, Regional Food
on September 27, 2011
Country Ham
Mark Boughton/styling: Teresa Blackburn

We’re out of ham this year. Call back next year.”  This was the nonchalant recording you’d get from Bob “HamBob” Woods, owner of The Hamery, just a couple years ago when you called to order a holiday ham.
The Hamery was started in 1969 in Murfreesboro, Tenn., by Bob’s uncle, veterinarian Sam Woods or “Little Doc” as he was known, and his cousin, Tom Givan. They missed the rich, salty flavor of county ham from the old days—when “Old Doc,” Sam’s father, cured his own hams.

Ten years later, The Hamery was passed on to Old Doc’s grandson Bob, who still cures ham according to Old Doc’s 68-year-old recipe that hangs on the wall (along with blue ribbons from the Tennessee State Fair). Bob salts and sugars the hams and cools them in January. By mid-February they’re washed and hung in nets to dry. A few weeks later, the hams are moved to the smoking room, where they hang over a smoldering fire of apple and hickory woods until late October.
Although The Hamery cures and smokes the old-fashioned way, Bob has recently gotten with the times. Due in part to the efforts of Jaymie Perry, the CEO (or “head ham,” as Bob calls her), The Hamery now ships hams to chefs across the country and has bumped up production. The company even makes “Tennshootoe,” Bob’s Tennessee version of the paper-thin sliced Italian ham, prosciutto.

To order Tennshootoe or country hams go to or call (615) 893-9712.