country ham -- how long at room temp is safe?
I am planning an open-house day involving a country ham. My lizard-brain vaguely remembers a rule that foods become dangerous after forty minutes between forty and one hundred and forty degrees fahrenheit. But, surely this does not apply to something as salty as country ham!
I guess I should serve, carve some, and refrigerate the ham, then bring it out later to carve more, etc... what a pain.
So, how long should country ham, sliced or not, sit around in a cozy warm house? An hour or two? Forty minutes? All day?
Cooked country hams were originally meant to last _days_ at room temperature! After all, refrigeration is a relatively recent concept. The salt in the ham is primarily a preservative and not as a seasoning. That's why such hams are served sliced so thin.
But if you keep your house very warm, it may not be a good idea to leave it out for more than half a day just to be safe, especially if people will be attacking the beast themselves. I have bought slices of jambon cru, raw cured ham similar to proscuitto, from charcuiteries in France that keep a leg out in the open all day, from which slices are taken by knife. The ham was behind a counter but even so I doubt that the food police would tolerate that practice in the US.