I am having a holiday open house and want to serve a ham. When I was a kid my parents always had a holiday open house and had a big ham (on the bone) that for me was the essence of ham pure haminess I remember those hams so fondly while the rest of the family cringed at the leftovers I rejoiced in them. I have never had such a ham as an adult and wonder what to buy to recreate that fabulous ham experience. Have you had a quintessential ham and if so, what was it and where do I buy it???
One big question in reply to the question: dry- or wet-cured?
Smithfield and other country hams are dry-cured, which produces a ham more like proscuitto in texture (dense, grainy and from very to extraordinarily salty). Wet-cured (often now called "city hams" in distinction from "country hams") hams are much moister and less salty.
Ham aficionados tend to treat country hams as "real" hams, but people unacquainted with them often balk at them.
Before you decide on "city" ham or "country" ham, go to this web site: www.countrycuredhams.com
It is for Johnston County (NC) Hams. Their phone number is 800-543-HAMS (4267). They have been in the business of country hams and pork products for generations. I grew up in the small town, Smithfield, NC, where they are located - this is DEFINITELY NOT the infamous "Smithfield Hams" & other pork products we hear so much about. Whether or not you choose to order anything from them, visiting their website is worth it; however, their products are great!
I do a baked country ham for our family every Christmas and occasionally will do one at some other time during the year.