STRASBURG – Town officials aren’t allowed to accept personal gifts but that didn’t stop Strasburg employees from enjoying a post-holiday feast on Thursday.
Leading up to Christmas, one town resident dropped off a country ham at the Town Hall, leaving staff members in a tricky situation. Without any clear idea what to do with the ham, or any expertise in how to prepare it, Strasburg Police Chief Wayne Sager volunteered his services.
Sager said he enjoys cooking and uses it as a way to decompress after long days on the job.
“For me, it’s an outlet,” he said. “I do enjoy cooking. I may not be very good … [but] I definitely use that to relieve stress.”
Although he said he has a store of knowledge, he had never prepared a country ham before. To remedy the problem, Sager reached out to countless people, asking for advice from town employees, citizens and cashiers at local stores.
He started with how-to videos on YouTube and fielded advice from dozens of people. A common tip, he said he received was to cook the ham “low and slow.”
“I was going around,” he said. “I was asking everybody [for] different input.”
After soaking the roughly 10-pound ham in water for two days, Sager said he wrapped it in foil with Sprite and baked it at 225 degrees for about 10 hours. Toward the end of the process, he said he had to increase the temperature to make sure the treat was cooked all the way through and he didn’t send town staff and his officers home sick.
Thursday’s lunch happened to fall on Law Enforcement Appreciation Day, a happenstance Sager said he didn’t plan for.
Standing over a platter of sugar cookies decorated to resemble mustaches, police cruisers, and cards asking for identification, Sager said the outpouring of support for his department as well as the town staff is phenomenal.
Before dishing out the finished product, Sager said he had fun learning about country ham and picking up a new method of cooking. As much fun as it was, he said, he doesn’t know if he would want to do it again.
“I enjoy cooking. I enjoy the challenge of something I’ve never done,” he said. “I’m not sure if I’d do it again or not. It depends on what the reviews are upstairs.”