Very happy to see that the State of Tennessee has bestowed its 2017 Governor’s Art Award, Folklife Heritage Award to Allan Benton.
About him, they note:
Benton has been curing over 12,000 hams a year for over 40 years. He uses traditional techniques passed down to him by his parents and grandparents. The hams are slowly cured through several stages and temperatures for at least nine months before they are sold. He uses the same cure his father did in the smokehouse behind his childhood home—a family recipe consisting of salt, brown sugar and pepper. Benton hangs pigs’ legs from wooden racks until the time is right, anywhere from 14 to 24 months for the aged hams. Country ham is a simpler recipe and a shorter cure. Bacon bellies are smoked for three to four days.
…He has been described by Saveur as “one of the most respected producers in the United States.” Benton’s hams and bacon have become the standard against which all others are measured and are sought after by top chefs like Sean Brock, David Chang, and Hugh Acheson. In 2015 Benton was awarded the James Beard Foundation’s “Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America” Award, given to those in the food industry who have contributed to America’s culinary scene.
Using his artistry, expertise and devoted adherence to old traditional methods in one of Tennessee’s renowned foodways traditions, Benton’s Country Hams truly reflect the diversity and depth of Tennessee heritage. Those who would like to incorporate a few pounds of bacon into their pantry or want a whole country ham of their own would be wise to plan on ordering in advance. Benton owns the distinction for being the first foodways awardee in the history of the Tennessee Governor’s Arts Awards.
We’ve been huge fans of Allan Benton for years now, and have enjoyed every side-trip to Benton’s in Madisonville, Tennessee with the chance to get to visit with him.
His is a simple block building with metal roof and paneling on the walls, but it is a mecca when it comes to smoked meat.
These pics come from different visits, but any time you come, Allan seems to always be happy to take anyone in the back to see where the magic happens.
Love, love. Good job, Allan. Well deserved.