Things You Should Know While Buying and Cooking Ham

Whether you are planning a Christmas dinner for the family or a big Sunday family event, cooked ham is the best dish to go to. However, preparing the best ham is not that simple. Before you go to the store, there are many things that you should consider.

Hams fall into three categories, city ham which is wet cured, dry-cured country ham, and fresh, uncured ham.

City ham is most common and usually fully cooked. You can serve it cold or warm at 140°F. If you are buying uncooked ham, bake it at 145°F and let it rest for 3 minutes.

Whether you consider buying cooked ham or uncooked ham, here is some information that can help you make the right decision about ham.

What are the Types of Ham?

Here are the most common types of ham

1. City Ham

City ham is the easiest to find at any grocery store, and it is quite easy to prepare. It is sold fully cooked and is cured by brining.

2. Country Ham

It is a dry-cured and uncooked form of ham that is harder to find. It is cured with a dry rub and usually sold uncooked. Country ham can be smoked and can be salty. They can also be dry. It is served in the form of thin slices and is soaked for 24 hours before cooking.

3. Fresh Ham

One of the most difficult forms of ham to find is fresh ham. It is uncured and uncooked. You need to go to a local butcher to buy this ham.

Boneless or Bone-in Ham? Which one to prefer?

You can buy both boneless or bone-in ham from the market, depending upon your choice. Here is the difference between the two.

●       Boneless Ham

If you prefer convenience over comfort, then boneless ham is always an option. There is no bone in boneless ham. Boneless ham is quite easy to cut and slice.

Some small producers provide good quality ham with the bone removed and specially packed for easy serving, slicing, and enjoyment.

●       Bone-in Ham

A bone-in ham is more flavorful and tastier as the bone imparts flavor into the meat. You can also use the bone to make soup or ham steak.

Shank End- It is the leg portion of ham which is a great choice if you want a perfect presentation. The meat of this portion is leaner and has one long bone, which makes carving easier.

Butt End- It is a more tender part of ham with fattier meat which leads to a richer flavor. However, there is a T-shaped bone inside that can be tricky. However, there are many ways you want to carve them perfectly. Moreover, the butt half is also large with small connective tissues. It makes more meaty cuts.

How to Carve a Ham?

  • Buy a cooked semi-boneless ham.
  • Use a sharp knife with a thin blade for comfortable controlling

Cutting of Ham

People usually make a common mistake of using a too-small cutting board with no space to shift the slices and no room to move your arms and hands. Using a small cutting board will make it very hard for you to cut the meat.

Set up a large cutting board and set the ham on the board. Use sharp knives for cutting ham. For cutting a semi-boneless ham, arrange it on the board with a pre-cut side down.

Put it in a way that the bone is vertical to the board. Pierce the knife into the meat in a manner that is sufficiently deep in the meat to hold it while cutting. Now carve along the bone to remove the boneless section easily.

Now carve vertical slices and set them on the serving place. Keep them warm with the use of foil. Make horizontal cuts to the bone and transfer to the plate.

After cutting the meat, you will still find some meat remaining on the bone, which is not enough to slice up for the guests. You do not need to throw it out. Because this uneven meat is perfect for sandwiches and salads, you can add flavors to it.

What is a Smoked Ham?

Smoking is also a form of curing. Before smoking the ham, it is salt-cured or brined to prevent the development of bacteria during smoking. After that, ham is put in the smokehouse for hours or days. Maple smoke is slowly infused into the meat.

The smoking temperature is kept low, so the meat does not burn up. The temperature in the smokehouse is kept around 100°F, which is why it is called cold-smoking.

Many good hams are cured and smoked, and they are allowed to age for weeks, months, and sometimes years. Aging helps to concentrate the flavors.

Tips on Making the Best Ham

Here are some of the tips that you can follow

Buy the Ham You Can AffordIf you are about to cook for a holiday and look for affordable meat, buying from the local butcher shop is preferable rather than buying meat from the grocery stores. The flavors are more enhanced, and texture tends to be more robust if you buy from the butcher shop.

Bone-in Ham- Prefer to buy semi-boneless ham. The bone prevents the ham from drying out and adds more flavor. The bone makes the meat tastier. You do not need to waste the bone. You can add it to the soup to make broth or add it to the pot of beans.

Do not Overlook itIf you buy cooked ham, you only need gentle reheating in the oven. So do not give high heat to the ham and keep the temperature on the low side. Packed ham comes with instructions that you can follow.

Do Not Freeze Ham-Ham does not freeze well. Though you can freeze it after thawing, it seems to be so wet and soggy. Therefore, avoid freezing ham for a long time.