There's something sublime about the flavor of a thick-cut slice of freshly cooked and smoked ham. However, with so many different types of ham being sold today, it's easy to get confused over which type to buy. Here's some ham help!
● Read the label--know what you're buying--is it a cooked or un-cooked ham? If you're not sure, ask someone in the meat department!
● Buy a bone-in Ham. "As with any meat, the bone-in meat is more tender, more succulent. A whole 12- to 14-pound ham serves 20 to 24 people.
●If you are purchasing a half-ham, choose the shank end.
"The best eating on a ham is the meat on the shank end,". "It has the most flavor because there's a little bit more fat on that end. It's a fabulous cut of meat – it's succulent and tender." The shank end is the pointy end of the ham, whereas the butt end is rounded
●Understand that an uncooked ham will need a lot of cooking time! Has to reach at least 165 internal temperaure.
● A cooked ham only needs to be warmed up to an internal temp of 145F. Don;'t over-heat it, or you risk drying it out.
HAM 101: A PRIMER
Depending on how a fully cooked ham is cured or how much water is injected with the brining solution, water content varies widely – so much that the U.S. Department of Agriculture requires labels to reflect water content. Here's what label names mean for the consumer.
No-water-added ham== Hams are injected with a brining solution of salt, sugar, seasonings and water before they are cooked or enter the smokehouse. Hams injected with a low amount of water – which sweats out during the smoking process.
Ham with natural juices-- A popular choice for a dinner ham, these hams are sold in supermarkets and by some specialty ham companies. The retention of water results in a packaged product that weighs up to 108 percent of its original weight before curing and smoking.
Ham-water added--Canned hams and cold cuts most commonly bear this label. Ten percent of the weight of a water-added ham may be solution. This ham does not heat well. Best served cold, sliced thin in sandwiches.
Cuts of ham---Connoisseurs say that bone-in hams have the best flavor. But beyond the bone, there are many more choices that consumers face when buying a ham. Depending on how many people you're serving and the type of meal, you may not want to buy a whole ham. Here's a rundown on your options.
Uncut whole ham--The choice of ham connoisseurs, especially if you're heating the ham. Best for a big dinner, or if you want leftovers – including a ham bone for flavoring soup. A 12- to 14-pound whole ham will feed 20 to 24 people with leftovers.
Spiral-cut ham==These are available as whole or half hams. The center bone is left in, and the ham is sliced in a spiral pattern around it. Often times hickory or smoked or honey glazed.
Fully cooked hams ----Hams cured before cooking by injecting with a brine solution containing water, salt, nitrates, nitrites, sugar and spices. The hams are usually smoked; they may be fully cooked in the smokehouse, or partially smoked, then roasted.
Mr.Barbecue's All Time Favorite Ham Glaze:
I came up with this recipe a few years ago for one of my friends. It became an instant hit with the family, and is still used to this day. It provides wonderful flavor to any type of ham.
Ingredients: 1 cup of mustard (your choice-yellow,deli, German-style), 1/2 cup orange or pineapple juice, 1/4 cup clover honey, 2tsp. garlic powder, 1tsp. paprika, 1/2 tsp. allspice.
Preparation: Blend all ingredients together in a bowl or mixing cup. Slather on the ham, and use remainder to baste ham every 45 minutes while cooking. Makes approx. 2 cups.