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Country ham -- how to cook it?

I've been given a beautiful country ham for Christmas and am looking for some advice on how best to cook it. I've seen recipes that suggest putting it at a bare simmer for several hours. Any experience or other suggestions would be much appreciated.

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  1. I grew up with it sliced about 1/4 - 1/3 inch thick, then fried in a cast-iron pan over medium-high heat. Usually then flopped over itself on a biscuit. Don't cook it too much, though, because it gets hard as a rock if you do.

    My grandmother who didn't cook well (yes, they exist, believe it or not) simmered hers, which I think is a waste of a good (and expensive) ham. My grandmother who DID know her way around the kitchen did it in a medium oven (around 350, I'd say) for about 3 hours or so.

    Whatever you do, don't ruin it with Dr. Pepper and pickle juice like Alton Brown advises.

    I'm sure you know this, but it's essentially the same thing as a smoked prosciutto, just cured for a shorter time:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/...

    http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage...

    6 Replies
    1. re: dmd_kc

      "Whatever you do, don't ruin it with Dr. Pepper and pickle juice like Alton Brown advises"

      Really, I thoughtthat looked pretty interesting

      1. re: sarge

        I tried it on a very expensive ham earlier this year. The flavors don't penetrate at all, and they were just, well, weird on the outside. Ended up cutting off as much of the outside as we could, and it was fine.

        And I didn't say it, but as others pointed out below, soaking and scrubbing first is the key before baking.

        It's true that it's salty as all get-out when fried. But to someone like me who grew up with it tough and salty, that's just part and parcel of having ham biscuits. They're what they are, and I do love them. But that's an acquired taste.

      2. re: dmd_kc

        hi dmd_kc,

        So I assume it is very much ok to consume it as is (no cooking) since it is essentially prosciutto?

          1. re: JRCann

            Country hams are no different than Prosciutto and you don't have to cook prosciutto before eating. What makes you think they must be cooked before consuming.

            "Joe Amadee, a distributor for Sermara Enterprises, an American company that sells Italian equipment used to salt and to dry prosciutto, said he has outfitted more than a half-dozen country-ham producers. ''People who understand the prosciutto process realize it's pretty much the same as the country-ham process,'' he said.

            The Food Safety and Inspection Service of the Agriculture Department agrees. The same regulations govern all dry-cured hams produced in the United States, whether country or prosciutto style. Dry-curing with salt helps prevent bacterial growth, making the hams safe to eat uncooked."

            http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage...

            1. re: JRCann

              KTinNYC has it exactly right. No real difference between raw country ham and prosciutto crudo, except for the flavor. Even though the flavor is quite different, good country ham works quite well in just about every way you'd want to use prosciutto, whether raw with melon or cooked in a pasta dish. I won a spot in the local PBS station's on-air fundraiser, and in the accompanying cookbook, with my recipe for Tennessee Straw and Hay, green and white fettucini with a sauce of cream, mushrooms, peas, onion and country ham.

        1. Here's what I do (see Baked Ham). Untreated country ham is very salty. so a method like this is higholy recommended.

          http://www.cliftyfarm.com/recipes.htm

          1. Most country hams come with a tag attached to the bag with identifying name, address, etc. Call and ask. I'll bet the person who answers the phone will know several great ways to use this product. Some country hams get soaked then baked while others are simmered. My money is on the company rep for good information.

            1. Does anyone know where to get organic hams?

              3 Replies
              1. re: Bsaltman

                Find a local farmer or supplier and go from there. Organic is somewhat of a misnomer. You can have a pig that is fed only "organic" feed, but the pig itself may have been bound up in a tiny industrial cage. Conversely, a local farmer who raises pigs on pasture and allows them to forage naturally may not have the organic certification label attached to his/her product, but I can tell you that I would buy the pastured pig long before I just found something labeled as organic. At the risk of sounding somewhat harsh: know your food, just don't buy something because you've heard the word organic on TV commercials.

                1. re: HaagenDazs

                  Right on, Haagen Dazs. I have been working with a local butcher (Fleisher's in Kingston, NY) who gets all his meat from local farms. I bought a big old "ham" from him, but it was up to me to make it taste like ham and not just pork, and I failed miserably and my 3 year old rejected it outright, so instead of going to all this trouble, I thought I might be able to buy an organic prepared ham.

                  Are commercials really using the word "organic" these days? I don't have a TV, so I'm out of that loop. But thanks for the heads' up!

                  B.

                  1. re: Bsaltman

                    No, I haven't seen a lot of commercial's for "organic" meat, but there's greater emphasis being put on how the animal grew up. I think that Haagen Dazs's point is that there is a "problem" with animals being labeled as "organic" when in reality, they are being fed organic grains while still being couped up in a pen all day with who knows how many other animals not walking around and developing flavor.

                    Personally, I've been working on getting into the habit of buying pasture-raised, hormone/antibiotic free meat from smaller farms because these animals are raised by people who are generally more invested in the animal's welfare while it was still alive. Pasture-raised animals taste better, and I like the fact that the critter was a little happier while it spent it's time on this Earth.

                    Now, regarding the ham - was it a fresh ham or a cured ham? There isn't a whole lot that one could do to a fresh ham that would make me like it, but a cured ham is divine.

              2. I posted this on your other post but will repeat so you do miss it, this method will yeid a less salty ham. And on the farm we never fry ham-- that concentrats the salt and turns it to show leather. Also your cooked ham will last for up to 6 weeks in the fridge as long as you keep all exposed flesh covered in plastic wrap - no air or it will dry out. My G-mother used the skin and fat cap to accomplish the same thing.

                re: Ichabod Since I just finished cooking one for Xmas (turned out awesome -- genuine "pig candy"!!) Here's my late mother's and Gmother's recipe. It takes a couple days.

                Take ham out of the bag and throw it in the sink and scrub the outside throughly with a stiff bristled brush and warm running water to remove the mold and other things. Get down into all the cracks and crevases.

                Place the ham in a large bucket and cover completely with cold water. Soak for 12 hours, drain the water turn the ham over and cover with cold water again for another 12 hours, Repeat this at least 3 times. (my mom always said for three days!) This will help remove the salt and cure.

                Then place it in a large boiling (crab steamer) pot, cover with cold water Bring to a steady simmer. Add more hot water as needed to keep the ham completely covered. Simmer 20-25 mins per pound. Check internal temp, remove at 155-160, let rest. Skin the ham while still warm. Carve off extra thin slices for best flavor.

                My source for ham and bacon -- RM Felts, Ivor Va, 757-859-6231 - no website --- you have to call. nice people, wholesale prices, quickdelivery via Fed Ex. This is classic VA Ham.

                100 yr old family recipe... there you go.

                Note Use a PLASTIC bucket to soak the ham in. A galvanized one would be really nasty!

                11 Replies
                1. re: JRCann

                  Thanks to all. I plan on cooking it this weekend and will report the results.

                  1. re: JRCann

                    My husband and I just bought a cured ham from A.B. Vannoy in western N.C., and this is our first foray into preparing a country ham (usually, my ham is purchased between two halves of a biscuit at the state fair). I've noticed that some people do all the steps you mentioned above, but then go one step further and skin the ham and put it in the oven to crisp up. Do you recommend this? Does that extra step make it leathery?

                    1. re: jazzy77

                      "I've noticed that some people do all the steps you mentioned above, but then go one step further and skin the ham and put it in the oven to crisp up"

                      do you mean the skin or the entire ham?

                      If the whole ham, I would think that "crisping" it is unnecessary and not a good idea. If its a well cured ham its already a bit dry. I think those who fry it are the same, saltier and bordering on leather. I am not one for "Hog jerky". I like my pig candy moist and easy to chew. (I may be old but I have all my teeth-- perhaps thats why)

                      1. re: JRCann

                        Sorry if I was being confusing - the skinned whole ham (not sure what one can do with the skin) would be put back in the oven to crisp. I'm trying to avoid having it be too salty - I like fried country ham, but I don't know if the others we're serving it to would.

                        1. re: jazzy77

                          I'm trying to avoid having it be too salty - I like fried country ham

                          There is the conundrum. By frying (and "crisping it in the oven" you only concentrate the salt flavor by removing some moisture. My mom's method of soaking and changing the water at least three times removes a considerable amount of salt and leaves the meat moist. First day we have it warm, sliced on a plate. After that, we just slice it off cold (usually because its kept on the porch) and slap it on a bisquit. Throw the skin away.

                    2. re: JRCann

                      Thanks for all your help! We used most of your recommendations for making our ham - and it was wonderful! (Someone actually also the words "pig candy" at dinner that night!). We ended up soaking it for 2 days in a 5 gal., plastic bucket, and then "steaming" it in the oven all day in a water bath.

                      It was divine, and we're excited for next year to roll around so we can make another.

                      1. re: JRCann

                        jrcann
                        I was reading an ancient Kentucky cookbook and came across the method you described above.The final step involved simmering the ham in Champagne for a few hours.Curious as to what you,and others,think of this technique.

                        1. re: scrumptiouschef

                          Thats a good waste of Champagne :0). My mother-in-law in Tennessee frys it in a skillet.serves it with bisquits, gravy, eggs...etc... Country ham kicks butt

                          1. re: scrumptiouschef

                            yep, a waste of "good booze" as Ralph C. would say!

                            1. re: JRCann

                              The time has come to cook my 16lb bone-in,unsliced Benton's country ham.It's a couple years old[bought at the 1 year mark and somehow uneaten til now]. I reckon I'll soak her in a 5 gallon plastic bucket for a couple days changing the water every 12 hours or so.

                              I don't like the idea of submerging the ham in water for the final cookdown though and am thinking instead of braising it in the oven.I have a few quarts of pork stock made from pig's feet sitting in the fridge right now.

                              What do y'all think of putting a couple inches of stock in the bottom of a big pan,tenting the ham with foil and braising at 200 degrees for a few hours?

                              This may sound blasphemous to some but I'm wondering how good of a job my 5.5 quart Rival crockpot would do.I can fashion a lid from foil,pour the stock in the bottom and put her on low all day long.

                              Hoping to hear from the serious cooks.

                              1. re: scrumptiouschef

                                #1; I don't think you can get a 16lb ham in a 5.5 qt pot!

                                #2 Most people are looking to reduce the salt content when preparing. I think the idea of putting your ham in pork stock made from pigs feet (if they are cured or smoked will only add to the total salt content.) Your ham is well cured by now and would probably benefit from 8 hours simmering in plain water. Save the pigs feet for another dish. Good luck.

                        2. Soak ham overnight. After you have scrubbed the ham, place it in a roaster with a tight fitting lid, skin side up. Add 7 cups of water. Put lid on tight. Put ham in oven and set temperature to 500 degrees F. Start timing when oven temp reaches 500, cook for 15 minutes. Turn off oven for three hours. At the end of three hours, turn oven to 500 and leave on for 20 minutes after oven reaches 500. Turn off oven after 20 minutes and leave ham in oven. DO NOT OPEN OVEN AT ANY TIME. Leave ham in oven for 6-8 hours- overnight is good. After 6-8 hours, I take ham out of oven and remove outer skin and cut off excess fat. Score remaining fat, stud with whole cloves, sprinkle with brown sugar. Brown in hot oven (450) until glazed and brown (usually about 20 minutes).

                          I usually start cooking mine at 6:00 p.m. for the first cycle and then again at 9:00 p.m. for second cycle. I leave it in oven overnight.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: vafarmwife

                            You can also boil a country ham. Soak it overnight and scrub. Put into large cooking pot with skin side up. Cover with fresh water. Bring to a simmering boil. Start timing after it begins to simmer. Do not boil hard. Simmer for 20-25 minutes per pound. The ham is done when the flat pelvic bone can be removed easily. Allow ham to cool in broth. Remove skin and excess fat. You can slice and serve ham at this point. If you want, you may score the ham, insert whole cloves and sprinkle with brown sugar and brown it in oven at 450 until glazed.

                            Of course the only country ham we ever eat is Clifty Farms.

                            1. re: vafarmwife

                              Oh and if you want, you can chill the leftover grease in flat pan, cut it into blocks and freeze. Use it for seasoning green beans or brown beans. Don't throw away the scrappy from the bottom part on the ham, grind them and use them for ham salad.

                              1. re: vafarmwife

                                I think cooking a good country ham well is an art form! Just wanted to tell you that your methods (hot oven and stove top) are "right on the money" -- good job. My parents are 82 years old and have had wonderful success for years using the same techniques you described. Dad is from Isle of Wight County and Mama is from Southampton County (VA), so hams are something they've been around all their lives. Daddy used to cure his own. Mama doesn't do it anymore, but she used to remove the bone from the warm ham, wrap the ham tightly in "saran" wrap, and put it back in the cloth sack it came in (after washing it). Then she'd twist that sack down as tightly as she could and compress the ham. Once it cooled it was a beautiful boneless ham -- and so easy to slice. Which brings me to the second part of the "art of country hams" -- slicing it right. I can cook one like Mama and Daddy, but I still take it over their house and let Mama get the slicing part started for me. We like it sliced very thin. Thanks again for your cooking suggestions.

                                1. re: lcpearce

                                  When I was growing up, we killed two hogs every year usually on Thanksgiving day if it was cold enough. My jobs were scraping hair off the hog after it had come out the boiling water and salting the hams. I remember how the sharp edges of the bones would nick my hands and then the sugar cure would sting. After I rubbed the sugar cure into the hams, my grandfather would wrap them and hang them in the smokehouse. Our usual Saturday night supper was ham, fried potatoes, greens, black-eyed peas and cornbread. Memories....

                                  1. re: vafarmwife

                                    They always sent me to an Aunt's house on hog-killing day. Daddy used to say that we ate everything but the oink. Mama's stove had one burner that was called a "deep well" and she used that to slow-cook the Dan-Doodle sausage -- something I loved but my kids have probably never even heard of.

                              2. I am resurrecting this very old thread because I am cooking a country ham this Sunday. I have a 16 pound ham. I plan on soaking it in a cooler, changing the water out every 12 hours starting Wednesday evening. On the day of, I plan on simmering it in a large crab pot on the stove for 20 minutes per pound. I will then bake it in the oven with a brown sugar glaze for 25 minutes.

                                Does this sound like a good game plan? Thanks in advance!

                                6 Replies
                                1. re: amethiste

                                  Just follow either of vafarmwife's methods upthread and you'll end up with a tasty ham! Just remember to slice it thin, a little goes a long way. And if you make ham salad from the scrappy bits as she recommends (my grandpa's rule was it had to be mixed with Hellman's mayo and a good sweet pickle relish), you'll never go back to that pasty, bland pink stuff again!

                                  1. re: morwen

                                    Thanks for the tip. I feel so much better aboout the process nbw

                                  2. re: amethiste

                                    Speaking of your crab pot, this reminds me of one of my favorite brunch dishes--Crabmeat Norfolk.
                                    Gently saute tender cooked country ham slivers in a little butter, add lump crabmeat and toss to blend, then season with a bit of fresh lemon juice and freshly ground black pepper. Serve on toasted English muffin halves, along with scrambled eggs on the other muffin halves.

                                    1. re: magnolia

                                      I'm from southeast VA so this recipe sounds like home. I might have to try this with the leftovers.

                                    2. re: amethiste

                                      sounds like a winner --- just leave off the brown sugar glaze part. It's already pig candy...

                                      1. re: amethiste

                                        The ham came out great. I started soaking it on Thursday to serve on Sunday. I came across a recipe in the cookbook "Spoonbread and Strawberry Wine" by Carol & Norma Jean Darden. The recipe called for apple cider, apple cider vinaigre, bay leaves, and brown sugar to be added to the boiling liquid. I was going to do this but as I was filling the (borrowed) crab pot I discovered there was a crack in it. So I placed the ham skin side up in a roasting pan with some of the liquid I planned on simmering it in, covered it in aluminum foil. Then I cranked the oven up to 500 and cooked it for a half hour. then I cranked it down to 350 to cook for another 4 hours. Right before dinner we sliced the skin off and scored the remaining fat. We coated the ham with a pineapple juice and brown sugar glaze and studded it with cloves. Back in the oven for another 1/2 hour. It was a hit. Thank you everyone.

                                      2. As a native Kentuckian, I blanch at soaking a perfectly good country ham. It's SUPPOSED to be a strong-flavored salt overload. Just wipe it down to remove any "nasties," cook (I think pan frying is best, in a cast iron skillet, natch), and then serve as thin slices accompanied, of course, with redeye gravy and biscuits. Oh, wish I still lived in the Land of Biscuits and Gravy!

                                        12 Replies
                                        1. re: pine time

                                          Maybe up in Kentucky they want it all salty and chewy. In my not-quite 30 years in and around Nashville, though, except for a few hardy souls (presumably with no major health problems), any country ham intended for a dinner table was always soaked and simmered to a still-salty but much calmer deliciousness. The late Jerry Rivers, Hank Williams's fiddler, lived up the road from me for a while, and when our slice of Sumner County had its annual neighborhood get-together he'd cook one of his own hams like that and bring it over. You could just about eat it with a spoon …

                                          As I posted on this thread a few years ago, I have used it raw (or barely heated through) in the same way prosciutto is used. I've seen it in slices, cooked from its unsoaked state in ham biscuits, but even if I didn't consider a big slab of that just about inedible my doctor would get heavily on my case about eating anything like that.

                                          1. re: pine time

                                            Hey Will Owen--long time no se. I'll throw in my .02 here: we food editors were sitting around having this soak-it-or-not-soak-it discussion. We were a couple of Tennesseans, a Kentuckian and a Virginians. As it turns out, Virginia hams are apparently cured differently, no soaking needed. Tennessee hams can be sliced (by a professional with a big saw) and fried, but they'll be dry, salty, and still have some of that unpleasantly funky cure on them. You can slice and fry a Virginia ham without this problem. So it probably does seem weird to a Kentuckian eating Virginia-style ham to soak it. But a Tennessee ham has to be soaked.

                                            As for the difference in country ham and prosciutto, Prosciutto is pressed between plates that are tightened gradually, forcing the water out (and compact the muscle fibers). Less water means less chance of spoilage and less salt needed. So they're really not the same.

                                            1. re: fluffernutter

                                              I did a Thanksgiving country ham several years ago - can't remember what specific supplier, but it was Kentucky; I did full-on soaking/changing in plain water for three days, then the simmering water on the stop top approach based on weight, then the pineapple brown sugar glaze briefly at the end; it was awesome and impressive to the guests - yes, pig candy! But, even soaking and changing water, it was definitely still a salty item. If it hadn't been soaked, I can see it having been inedible.
                                              Today, I've just ordered a whole one from http://wgwhite.com/, and I intend also to soak. I'll report back to compare my Southeast (North Carolina) experience vs. my Kentucky experience. Frankly, I"m scared not to soak, no matter where its from. It's a lot of money to spend on a ham, and I don't see how soaking could harm it, even if it was less salty than the Kentucky ham. It just seems like risk aversion.

                                              1. re: Michele_H

                                                Actually, I've eaten them both ways, soak and non. Country ham is delicious either way, and maybe I prefer the salt and funk, 'cause I still prefer TN versions unsoaked. But then, I like most foods quite 'strongly' flavored!

                                                1. re: pine time

                                                  Native SC here: I say pan fry slices in a cast iron skillet, deglaze with coffee, eat the resulting red eye gravy w/ grits, and then use an absolutely microscopic piece of ham to flavor a buscuit with fig preserves. That stuff's too salty to actually eat. :-)

                                                  1. re: danna

                                                    +1 but I'd eat it with a bIscuit! :) No such thing, tho, as too salty when it comes to country ham & red eye gravy, cooked in a cast iron skillet and biscuits. Oh, I'm salivating.

                                              2. re: fluffernutter

                                                Many moons later … fluffernutter, the first country ham I ate was in Virginia, a fried slice, and while it was deliciously hammy it was a bit like chewing a salt-cured boot. Of course the cure can vary from one maker to the next, but if it were up to me I'd definitely have soaked it!

                                                I appreciate the explanation of how prosciutto is cured; I hadn't realized the nature of the difference, I just knew it existed (and now I know why they're flat!). I should amend my earlier statement and say that country ham can be used in most ways the same as prosciutto IN COOKING, or (judiciously) in raw appetizers. Tennessee ham and melon would probably not be a winner!

                                                Reviewing this thread is recharging my desire for a Broadbent ham; Mrs. O is off meat these days, but I know some folks who'd love to share it at a dinner party.

                                                1. re: Will Owen

                                                  Hello all. New here and found this post. I am making my first country ham at Christmas and have a question. My local store sells Smithfields Milder Cure country ham....as opposed to the full on one...
                                                  Does anyone have any experience with this? Any recommendations?

                                                  1. re: cmonty

                                                    cmonty, read all of the above posts!!!

                                                    Smithfield's is part of a large "corporate group." Not to say that there is a lot wrong with that. However, there still exist a few small independent artisan cured ham producers.

                                                    My source for ham and bacon -- RM Felts, Ivor Va, 757-859-6231 - no website --- you have to call. nice people, wholesale prices, quickdelivery via Fed Ex. This is classic VA Ham at its best.

                                                    1. re: JRCann

                                                      Ok. Great. Appreciate info. Now another question from this yankee...is the VA cured ham the same as a country ham?

                                                        1. re: cmonty

                                                          No claim to be an expert here, but I'd say "yes" that a VA cured ham and a country ham are basically the same. However, there are different curing techniques. Some hams are "aged" for longer times than others. Some are "smoked", and some include sugar with the salt in the curing mixture for what's called "sugar-cured" hams. I think a lot of hams today aren't cured for more than a few (maybe 4-6) months. When my Dad ran a country store and sold "country hams" in Virginia, I think it worked like this: Hogs were slaughtered when the weather turned cold in the fall. Hams/bacon, etc. were treated with the salt curing mix to dry, and then hung in a "smokehouse" for aging and to absorb the flavors from the smoke. I think those hams would not be sold until the fall of the following year (around the holidays). Making them about a year old. We always soaked/scrubbed/rinsed/resoaked before cooking. Milder curing/shorter aging times may reduce the need for all that soaking. We still try to buy an aged/smoked ham and Dad (almost 85 now) prefers boiling followed by a slow simmer to any other cooking method for whole hams. Slicing and pan frying the meat without the soaking process works too. Here are a couple of links to some websites that may be helpful. Good luck! http://dardenscountrystore.com/Hammin...
                                                          http://www.smithfieldhams.com/product...

                                              3. I have made a Country Ham for several years now at every holiday season. I do it at Christmas because I enjoy those additional weeks of curing and the flavors that are produced by it. The hams are usually available in early November - but I feel the additional weeks are well worth the wait and if the ham arrives early I cover it in a brown paper bag - you do not want insects getting in the ham - and I hang it in a cool place (my detached garage) for the additional weeks until I am ready to cook it. I buy a (Nitrate/Nitrite-Free) Free-Range Aged Country Ham from Nancy Newsom at Newsom's Hams in Princeton, Kentucky. (http://www.newsomscountryham.com/) I live in Santa Monica, CA - so it is shipped by UPS. I didn't have a large enough pot when originally I undertook this project so I bought a stainless steel turkey fryer that can be attached to a propane fed hob. (I cook the ham outdoors, of course.) Real long-cured Country Ham arrives at the door unlike any ham you have ever experienced. It is unrefrigerated, covered in mold and is as hard as a billiard ball. So you are not so much cooking a Country Ham as you are re-hydrating the thing - but you must cook the ham until the meat reaches 170 degrees Farenheit - the ham has been hanging in a barn in Kentucky for the better part of a year after all - but the important aspect is the slow and steady rehydration of the meat. Nancy Newsom's Free-Range Country Hams are more marbled than other hams due to their free-range lifestyle and feeding and you want to retain as much of that marbling as possible - that is why slow and steady heat must be applied. There are several ways to cook a Country Ham and - given that - this is how I do it: I start by soaking the ham in water. Most recipes call for a soaking of at least 12 hours - or overnight. I started that way too (soaking overnight) and it produced fine ham. The next year I soaked it for two days. Even better Then three days. Wonderful! Then 4 days. Also superb. I haven't gone beyond four days. (And four days might be a bit excessive.) But the longer you soak the ham the more salt cure you will leech from it. I change the water every morning and evening with fresh, cold water from the tap. I dump the soaking-water directly into the storm sewer in the alley behind my house. You do not want the residue from the soaking process in your home plumbing system. After the first day of the soaking process you need to take the mold off the ham - the first day of soaking loosens the mold so that it is easier to remove. I use a plastic scrub brush - a brush that is dedicated to that task alone - and white vinegar. The mold comes off easily and is no cause for any alarm whatsoever. When soaking the ham, make certain the ham is completely submerged with several inches of water covering it. This will ensure that the ham is not exposed to the air (oxygen) during the soaking process. At the conclusion of the soaking period I dump the water one last time - wash the pot - replace the ham and fill the pot with cold tap water. I add 1 cup dark molasses and 1/2 cup cider vinegar to the pot and set it over the flame. When the pot starts to simmer - a very low simmer with small, steady bubbles breaking the surface of the cooking liquid - you need to maintain that very low simmer for the duration of the cooking time. It is important that you do not boil the ham - you will compromise the ham by drying it out - melting the marbled fat - and you will bring the ham up to temperature sooner than is required. The ham should be simmered for 20 minutes per pound - that means for a 17 pound ham I simmer it just under 6 hours. I usually start cooking the ham around 3:00 pm the day before we will be dining. I test for doneness with a digital instant-read thermometer (170 degrees F = done) and I then leave the ham to cool in the cooking liquid overnight. The next day I dump the cooking liquid into trash bags - so that the municipal sewage system is not clogged with the fat that is floating in the cooking pot. At this point the ham is well-cooked - the bones are loose and the bones in the hock come out easily. I trim away the skin and fat layer from the ham - retaining about a half inch of fat in a uniform layer (anywhere the fat remains.) I score the fat in one-inch diamonds - just as you have always done when glazing a ham - and I slather the entire ham with Grey Poupon Dijon Mustard and I pepper it liberally with fresh cracked black pepper and finally I pack a layer of dark brown sugar over the entire ham. I place the ham on a v-rack in a roasting pan with an inch of water poured in the pan so that drips from the glaze will not burn in the oven and I bake the ham at 350 degrees F until the glaze is set and well-caramelized. You will need to keep an eye on this process and make sure your glaze does not burn - but is should be well-glazed. That's it. And a better ham I have yet to encounter. It is unlike any ham you have ever tasted - unless you are already familiar with Country Ham. (For further explanation and praise read: PIG PERFECT by Peter Kaminsky. He is a great fan of ham (in general) and a true supporter of Nancy Newsom.)

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: cgtravers

                                                  @ cgtravers -- nicely done; thanks;