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Dec 14, 2009 10:50 AM

Benton's Country Ham - to cook or not to cook

I just ordered an uncooked (boned and trimmed) whole ham from Benton's to serve with biscuits on Boxing Day. I am planning to serve in thin slices with biscuits, not in steaks or as a main dish.

I've been doing a lot of nosing about the Internet, and the main question that I still have unanswered is this: do I have to soak and cook this ham, or can i get away with treating it like prosciutto or jamon serrano? I noticed that country hams in the US were salted for 50 days as opposed ot 24 days for italian and spanish hams. Does this render them inedibly salty until cooked? I assume safety is not the issue.

I just want to make sure the cooking method has a practical reason behind it, rather than just a tradition.

Thanks in advance for your input!

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  1. Since you're doing ham for biscuits, I would boil it.

    Here's my time-worn recipe for boiling a sugar-cured 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.

    There was discussion on another thread about just slicing and eating without cooking-

    1. I loved this ham at last yrs slow food wknd in sf. I had it on a biscuit and watched the prep cooks. It was just sliced thinly off the unsoaked, raw ham and given a fast turn on the griddle to warm up the fat.

        this piece was the first time it dawned on me that our country hams could be eaten without further cooking. Bentons is delicious . . . Save me some. :-)