Friday, September 10, 2010

Recession Cold Cuts or "Poor Girl's Hot Butt" by Cleo Coyle

Has anyone else noticed that the cost of deli cold cuts has risen to a fairly ridiculous level? Where I live in Queens, the ham, roast beef, and turkey at my grocery's deli are close to $10.00 a pound. Sure I'd prefer to make sandwiches out of Prosciutto di Parma but $50.00 a pound is also just a tad beyond our household's weekly budget.

Cold cuts really are the best way to create a quick sandwich for take-away school (or office) lunches, but you don't have to pay those outrageous deli prices. And, honey, if your answer is to buy those packages of pre-sliced, vacuum packed meats, then give me one minute of your time today because my Poor Girl's Hot Butt is a great solution for your budget and your taste buds.

Mini hams like these are a major plus
for taste buds and budgets.

The per-pound price is less than half
of most deli cold cuts.

These adorable little hams are actually smoked pork shoulder butts of about 2 to 3 pounds in size. They are sold as "Porkettes" by the Freirich company. Look for them where your grocer sells hams and pork products.

Note: This brand is sold at major retailers in 25 states. To find out which grocery store chain carries them in your area, click here.

If you live in a state where Freirich is not sold, look for Daisy Rose brand smoked boneless pork shoulder
Click here to learn more about this Rose Packing Company brand.
These mini hams are extremely easy to make, quick to cook, inexpensive, and delicious. They are also very versatile. How? Well...

We eat them for breakfast, warmed in a skillet,
just like Canadian bacon. They're also delicious in
an English muffin sandwich with a poached egg
and melted cheese.

We eat them for dinner, sautéed in a pan,
as you would slices of smoked ham.

We eat them for lunch with Swiss cheese
on whole wheat, a bit of lettuce and mustard,
as you would deli cold cuts. They're also an amazing
complement to grilled cheese.

So how do you prepare these cute mini hams?
Very easy...

"Poor Girl's Hot Butt"
by Cleo Coyle

To download this recipe in PDF format
to print, save, or share, click here.

Step 1 - Remove Netting:

Some boneless pork shoulder butts are held together by a fine cloth net. To remove the netting, simply soak the meat in warm (not hot) water for 5 to 10 minutes. This will dissolve the fats holding the cloth to the meat.

Begin to work at the edge of the net with your fingers. It should come loose immediately. If not, soak a bit longer. Remove all of the netting before cooking. (If you have a butt without netting, skip this step.)

Step 2 - Prep for Oven:

Preheat oven to 325° F. Place your butt in the middle of a shallow roasting pan (no, not your butt, the pork shoulder butt). Pour liquid into the bottom of the pan. The liquid should cover the pan bottom and rise about 1 inch. I recommend using half milk and half water. The milk adds a lovely sweetness to the salty, smoky flavor of the ham.

Step 3 - Roast:

Place pan in center of preheated oven for about 35 minutes per pound. 

(If roasting more than one mini ham at the same time, add an additional 15 to 20 minutes to the total cooking time.)

When is it done? You're looking for the meat to reach an internal temperature of 160° F., but try to avoid sticking the meat too many times with the thermometer. You don’t want to lose the meat’s juices. If you're using my idea of water and milk as the liquid, there’s a handy visual clue that lets you know the meat is done. Near the end of the cooking process, most of the liquid will be dried up and the milk will have formed a thick film at the bottom of the pan (like the skin that forms on a pudding). The appearance of this salty skin tells you the meat is thoroughly cooked.

Step 4 - Rest, Baby, Rest:

After the pork is done, remove it from the oven and let it stand under a loose tent of aluminum foil for 30 minutes before slicing. This will allow the juices to recollect and ensure the meat will be moist and not dry.

Eat with joy!

~ Cleo Coyle

Roast Mortem: 
A Coffeehouse Mystery
Now a National Hardcover
Mystery Bestseller from...
Penguin's Berkley Prime Crime

To learn more about me and
my Coffeehouse Mysteries or to see more of my recipes,
visit me at


  1. This sounds pretty good, but I really like the plates you're serving it on. Festive!

  2. this post made me laugh..especially step 2 :) hmm..never really noticed these little hams before...I will definitely snoop around the supermarkets to see if we have em here... Thanks for the recipes~

  3. Thank you Cleo for post I will have to look for those little guys.

  4. I saw those when I lived in PA but I didn't know what they were. I'll have to look for them here in NC!! Two of the four of us love ham so these would be the right size for us!! Thanks for sharing.

  5. I loved the new book--couldn't put it down and read it in one sitting! Can't wait for the next one.
    I have read all the books and enjoy the development of the characters. At the beginning, not much was said about Joy and in more recent books she has become a more developed character. Like the unfolding story of Mike's life as well. Definitely have an appreciation for how hard a barista works!
    Thanks for the great books.

  6. The price of deli meat *has* gotten really high! This is a great tip for getting a tasty ham for a good price. I do get some of the mini hams from time to time and find that the meat freezes well, too, if we don't eat it all up fast enough. :)

  7. Yesterday the mail carrier delivered a package! I'm sitting here reading, writing, and enjoying a cup of Mackinac Island Fudge from Paramount Coffee. Yummy! Hits the spot on this gloomy day.

    Thanks for the great giveaways and for the great books.

  8. Cleo, i am so in love with your photos!

    First, I received my copy of your latest and I am devouring it. Will be done today, but i made the brownie recipe in the book yesterday and they were TERRIFIC! I say were, because I took them to poker night and the plate was gone before the first hand was dealt.

    But I really want to make the Mac and cheese recipe with the caramelized bacon... Can I post 2 recipes???

    As to this post... I would buy anything named "Porkette". Marketting genius!

  9. The cost of deli meat is unreal. This is a great idea and since it works for so many dishes, very cost efficient. Being a southern girl, the only thing missing in the first photo was grits with lots of butter. :)

    BTW, love your plates.

    Thoughts in Progress

  10. This is an awesome idea! We love ham, especially ham sandwiches. I just don't know if I could slice them thin like they do at the deli.

  11. Darn it, Cleo, I was just about to dig into a breakfast of hot mixed grain cereal with flaxseed and natural peanut butter ("birdseed," as my family says) - and now I've got a mighty craving for ham and eggs! Turkey ham, that is - the Jewish girl's compromise. Fairly inexpensive, and not half bad.

    Those pictures are downright seductive. You've got a talent there, lady!

  12. Oh yeah, I can see some grits with the pork.

  13. These look delish! And yes, you are brilliant! thanks, Cleo - I'm adding these to my grocery list as we speak.

  14. I've noticed the price of deli meat too. I prefer turkey to ham. It is still cheaper than eating lunch out everyday.
    Have a great weekend!

  15. You always have such good ideas and fun posts at this blog. Thanks so much!

  16. Okay, first I soak my butt in a milk bath... oh, that's right, my PORK butt (are you implying I have fat butt?). I just finished "Delicious and Suspicious" and am thinking that a slow roasted butt, shredded, and covered with BBQ sauce is sounding REALLY good right now! And a side of cole slaw and baked beans!

  17. Yum! What a good idea, and a new way to present something we usually have anyway!

  18. I've always wanted one of those deli slicers. Wouldn't that make it the complete homemade experience!

  19. Yes! Lunch meat is insanely expensive these days. We try to buy the kind that's free of nitrates/nitrites/whateverites, which is even more expensive. Sheesh.

  20. Cleo, I absolutely love your recipes. Whenever I visit your website, I look to see what new ones you've added. When I was little (and when I ate meat), my mother would buy the hams and turkeys and cut them up for lunch meat. It's a great money saving tip.

  21. I've noticed the cost of cold-cuts going up over the past year. That used to be my quick affordable go to lunch, but now it's easier on the wallet to come up with different choices.

  22. I have to find those little hams. Perfect for when we don't want to eat ham for the next week. By the way, I love the milk in the baking dish thing. I'll definitely try that!

  23. They are really good of you crock pot them with pineapple, brown sugar, and a little ground mustard..

  24. What a great idea and I loved the title of your post!

  25. I never noticed the little hamettes either, will have to watch for them. I would love to have the coffee mug, I can't keep these, they keep disappearing at my house. Love to read the blog every day.

  26. Cleo, What a great idea! Can't wait to try it. I
    love the title. I also really enjoy reading your books. Roast Mortem was a great read!! I am also looking forward to your next bookshop mystery.

  27. Holy Smokin' Pork Butts!!!! Those things are so stinkin' cute! Now I need to scroll back up and see if I can get them in MI. I love the idea of using milk...Mr. Nanc always gets a ham at Christmas from work and we are never able to finish the whole I will try and find these so I can donate the big ham to our local food bank!! Or perhaps we will make a dinner for the White Lake fire fighters!!
    As always, a great recipe with great chuckles thrown in... busy searching for a Porkette!

  28. Oh, yum! I haven't seen these hams before, but I wasn't really looking before. I could do this on a Sunday and have some fab leftovers through the week. I could make ham fried rice that I made back in the day when my mom would do up a ham. Thanks!

  29. Yes the big grocery stores here ask for $7.00-$9.00 a pound for lunch meat. The little mom and pop place in Westville charges $4.59 a pound so that is a bit better!

    We have little canned hams like that here. And you slice them and you can make this delicious ham sandwich. Or a nice ham sliced thick with eggs for breakfast.

  30. You just have to love anything called a porkette.
    Cleo, as always -- awesome post. Love the travel mug!

  31. Thanks to everyone who left such kind comments yesterday and this morning. I'm so glad you enjoyed the post.

    Congrats to Sheila who won the Gimme Coffee travel tumbler. Be sure to follow our blog for your next chance to win one of our fun giveaways.

    Eat with joy,
    ~ Cleo
    Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  32. What a great money saver! Never thought to add milk. I find some hams too salty - the milk should do the trick nicely. Thanks for a delightful post and a great idea :)

  33. My mother used to make these Porkettes all my life, (and I'm OLD now! lol), Freirichs makes them and they're available all over the U.S. She used to simmer them in a pot with sauerkraut and serve with hot AND sweet mustard. They're great and inexpensive. Not sure about the milk thing, (WHY does it make it better and moist?). Just asking.I may try it since I have a 3 lb one in my fridge now.