Pork Pride

Old Town Social makes ham worthy of your holiday table

The holiday ham–salty and sweet, glistening brown outside and proudly pink within–was once a standard centerpiece of celebratory meals.

But in these farm-to-table days, it's lagged behind.

This season, Old Town Social has brought the holiday ham back, with a house-made version available to go. Chef Jared Van Camp cures Berkshire pork (from Iowa) in a brown sugar-and-salt brine, then smokes it over cherrywood for 12 hours.

Each ham weighs 6 to 8 pounds and can easily feed 12 ($75; call the restaurant to reserve, or order online). Van Camp suggests slicing it cold, heating it as is, or glazing it with a maple syrup-brown sugar-mustard mixture before reheating.

Van Camp is a cured-meat fanatic (proof of his adoration: his graphic charcuterie blog, which he hopes to return to soon), and it's a little-known fact that the restaurant always offers its charcuterie to go.

For the holidays, he's also made 1-pound sopressata ($15) and finocchiona ($15) sausages from whole hogs that the restaurant sources from Illinois farms. Thick summer sausages ($12) are made from the same pork, plus Dietzler Farms beef.

They may look like the links you find in the grocery store–but the similarities end there.

Old Town Social, 455 W. North Ave.; 312-266-2277 or oldtownsocial.com