“I can’t believe we did it again,” Broadbent owner Ronny Drennan said in a press release. “This is a tremendous honor.”
Broadbent’s won five of the seven awards, which includes the Grand Champion prize. They hold the record for the most Grand Champion wins with 12. Not only that, but the ham also set a new auction record when First Southern National Bank bid to pay $500,000. Last year, Broadbent’s set that same record when its ham was sold for $340,000.
Drennan said that every year, he walks through the rooms where the hams hang to age and keeps his eye out for the ones he thinks have a good shot at winning the coveted prizes. He said he usually picks out 50 or 60 and tags them to look at later. He trims them up and smokes them before narrowing them down to the ones he’ll enter in the contest.
He said he looks for hams that aren’t too fat, too wrinkly, too hard or too mushy. Since aroma is extremely important as well, he gets his employees to help him judge that factor too.
Drennan said his sense of smell isn’t strong enough to judge aroma on his own, so two of his employees, Tim and Kathy Stone, act as his “nose.” To test a ham’s aroma, he’ll take a wooden peg, insert it inside and then sniff it. This process is called “probing.”
“After you probe it, you can use it as a toothpick and taste it,” Drennan said grinning.
Drennan and his wife, Beth, have owned Broadbent’s since 1999. Drennan said they used to own a service station for 10 years, and made wooden furniture for another 15 years after that.
Before buying the business from Smith Broadbent III, Drennan said his experience was limited to watching his father cure country hams as a child. After becoming interested in taking over operation of the business, though, Broadbent showed him the tricks of the trade.
For the rest of this story, read this week's Cadiz Record.