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Nov 26, 2004 08:41 PM

Any Really Good Cooked Country or Smithfield Hams Available Here?

  • p

Smithfield ham has always mystified me, though my mom loves it. I don't know whether I've been preparing the hams the wrong way (soaking the whole ham for 1-3 days, removing the skin, baking, slicing and serving), or if the stuff is really supposed to be like salt-pickled wood. I like prosciutto and love Jabugo, so it's not like I don't enjoy salty hams.

I would like to discover if I've been missing something. Should I buy the ham already cooked? If so, does anyone sell it in the Bay Area? Or should I buy from a mail-order company? Any recommended brands? (And do I have to refrigerate a whole cooked ham if I do buy one?)

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  1. I was raised not far from Smithfield, and still crave the ham. However, you will not find any in the Bay Area, unless you go to a Chinese market. For years I have been trying to get upscale delis to carry the deli hams for slicing by the pound, but no luck. People in this part of the country just don't know good ham. My suggestion...order a boneless, cooked ham from Smithfield Collection. Occasionally, they have great specials...but of course, now is the high season. While the ham will keep many weeks in the fridge, I thinly slice most of it, shrink wrap it in small portions and freeze. Keeps for many months. Unless you are hooked on the dry, salty original Smithfield, get a Va Country ham. Milder and my favorite. Cooking the sucker is just too much trouble. You might want to try a sampler, unless you are sure you will use a whole ham...it is a LOT of food.

    Link: http://www.smithfieldcollection.com/v...

    12 Replies
    1. re: Jim H.

      The Chinese markets will sometimes sell origianal Smithfield ham by the piece, though not cut to order. They're usually labeled, with a bit of poetic license "Jinhua ham" which closely resembles Smithfield Original, though is not cooked. It sounds like that is not what the OP is really craving, though.

      Link: http://eatingchinese.org/

      1. re: Gary Soup

        Yes, as Jim mentioned Chinese markets often have Smithfields, whole or by the piece. But I've not seen them cooked around here.

        We've soaked and cooked many Virginia hams over the years. Yet a friend sent me an already cooked Smithfield ham a few years ago, and it was so nice to not have to go through all the soaking steps and wondering whether the ham would turn out right. One of the nicest food gifts I've ever rec'd.

        1. re: Melanie Wong

          The market next to the 4-Star movie theatre on Clement Street has whole, uncooked Smithfields.

        2. re: Gary Soup

          Any reason why Chinese markets should carry Smithfield hams, which sound like a Southern tradition? A little bit of cross-cultural culinary fusion? :-)

          1. re: No.19

            Because it's similar to and a substitute for the Jinhua Chinese ham Gary mentions that is not available here.

            1. re: No.19

              these hams are an important part of some chinese soups. black chicken, dried mushroom, wintermelon... the soup is clear but intensely flavorful and satisfying. but the ham itself is basically spent after cooking and isn't the focus of the dish.

              my parents bought virginia hams by mail order back in the seventies because they were similar to the then inaccessible chinese hams.

              1. re: ed

                You're going to like the tale of my parents vacationing in Williamsburg, VA. My mom saw the newspaper ad that Safeway was having a sale on Smithfield hams, bought an extra suitcase, and hauled a bunch of them home on the plane.

                Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

          2. re: Jim H.
            Robert Lauriston

            Do any fancy grocers around here carry that vacuum-packed sliced ham? Three half-pound packages plus shipping charges ends up kind of steep.

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              I have been trying for years to get delis to carry at least true Va Country hams. There is such a thing as the deli ham from mail order...but it tends to be rather dry. The advantage of the packets is a convenient size, and no waste. A cooked, boneless ham has quite a bit of dried, tasteless meat on it. Many markets in Va carry the 1/2 to 1 lb packages, many shrink wrapped. It runs about $10 lb in the retail market. If you are interested, get on the mailing list of Smithfield Collection, and they will notify you when specials come up. Last year, I got a whole cooked, boneless country ham for $32 + shipping. Had some this morning. There will probably be sales after Xmas.

              1. re: Jim H.
                Robert Lauriston

                Are you saying that the 8-oz. vacuum-sealed packets are no good?

                Link: http://www.smithfieldcollection.com/v...

                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  You obviously misunderstood my message. The small packs are very good, but relatively expensive. There are, however, different grades of ham. I'm saying that while expensive, there is absolutely no waste. Its a good way to try Va Country (or Smithfield) ham for a reasonable price. Some people don't like the salty ham.

                  1. re: Jim H.
                    Robert Lauriston

                    Thanks for the clarification. I ordered one of each, which is to say three of each, and will report back.

          3. Thank you very much, all of you, for your suggestions!

            I've bookmarked the Smithfield Collection page, noting that Jim H is absolutely right about a whole ham being a LOT of food, and that if Melanie Wong appreciated receiving a pre-cooked Smithfield ham, it has to be worth trying! Right after this I'm going to go order myself some of those Charles Henry Gray party slices. They look so good I hope I'll have some left for Christmas.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Pia

              You can't go wrong with that. Keep in mind that the Chas. Henry ham is top of the line and rather expensive. The Country ham 8 oz packs (3 in an order) are quite good, and freezes well. If you are making petite sandwiches (the Va way), a little ham goes a long way. No Stage Deli type sandwiches. I got my Xmas brochure from the ham place today, and it does look tempting.