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The enormous ham

Do you ever buy something on line without fully realizing what you've purchased?

I am hosting a day-after-Thanksgiving lunch tomorrow, and I wanted to serve ham. But not the usual pre-cooked ham that you pop in the oven to heat up. That would be too easy. To make a long story short, I ordered a whole ham from Smithfield. It arrived yesterday and it's almost 2 feet long. It's an entire hog's leg.

If I had been thinking straight I would have taken it to a butcher when it arrived yesterday and asked him to saw it in half. But I wasn't. And the butchers are not working today.

The instructions say to soak the ham in several changes of cold water for 48 hours, then boil it for three hours, then glaze it and bake it. I have it soaking in a plastic storage container that just barely holds it. I don't have a pot nearly big enough to boil it in. Who would? That would be one enormous pot. The instructions say that as an alternative you can fashion a vessel out of heavy-duty aluminum foil and cook it in that in the oven. So that is what I shall attempt tomorrow morning. Wish me luck.

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  1. While I sympathize, I'm also very very VERY very jealous . . .

    Lucky guests!

    1. Where are the photos? Your guests better be ready with the platitudes.

      1. Save it for Christmas and prepare it properly.

        2 Replies
          1. re: monku

            That ham is NOT going to be ready tomorrow, regardless of what you do.
            Save it.

            Run down to the grocery story and buy one or two ham ends- they'll cook in under three hours.

            You could not even have your carving knife sharp enough by tomorrow a.m. if you started now

          2. Are there any hotels near you with kitchens? If you call, you should be able to find a general manager on duty and ask if you can borrow a large enough pot for tomorrow. If there are any restaurants open today near you, you can also ask. It goes without saying, that if anyone says yes, you should bring over a bottle of very good booze and also pass as much business as possible their way.

            1. Most large grocery stores have some very large turkey roasters- get the largest you can find. In a pinch, you can cut off the hock with a hack saw to make it fit.

              Don't forget to scrub off the mold and remove the skin- good luck!

              1 Reply
              1. re: Clarkafella

                You can probably soak and rinse it in an ice chest.

              2. If you don't soak it adequately it may be too salty to eat...I once bought a shiny new ham boiler at an auction for $3, kept it for years, never used it once, and got rid of it. Sorry--I wish you had it now. I have heard of cooking a large salmon in the dishwasher but I doubt that would work for a ham that needs long slow boiling. Good luck with this. Country ham is a treat but it does have to be soaked and cooked in a certain way. If you google "preparing country ham" you will find lots of advice. Here's mine: do what monku says and keep it for Christmas---this project can't be done properly overnight.

                1. Do not neglect reading all the hits that come up on "preparing country ham"---they are too funny. Look at the one headed "Holy Crap, This Thing Is Huge", also the one about a dog stealing the entire ham from the porch.

                  1. It was good! I did soak it for two days but it was still on the salty side. And it's true I don't have any knives sharp enough to slice it as thin and I should have sliced it. But it was good. It got eaten. And now I'll do what I should have done in the first place: I will take the bone to a butcher and ask him to saw it into two or three pieces that will fit in a soup pot.

                    11 Replies
                    1. re: NYCkaren

                      You know, I thought I'd cooked some honking huge hams, but I don't think I've ever even SEEN one that big!

                      How much did it weigh?

                      1. re: ZenSojourner

                        When I ordered it online they said it would be 12 to 13 lbs. But I think the packaging said 17.

                        It wasn't the weight that was the probem so much as the length. A turkey of that weight is rounder. I can put a turkey in a pot and brine it in my refrigerator. But this hog leg was so long it was very hard to find a vessel to put it in to soak it in water.

                        Here it is on my largest platter. It doesn't fit, as you see.

                        1. re: NYCkaren

                          That is SO WEIRD! It must be something about the way they cut it. I've cooked MUCH larger hams (by weight) and never had these kinds of problems.

                          Was it longer than oh, say, 24"? I'm sort of guessing. I think my big roasting pan was about 18" - 20". A big ham might hang over a little bit but not really much.

                          I'm trying to think if it had quite that much "calf"-al area hanging off the end . . . I don't think so. I think it was cut closer to the ham itself (as in muscle mass).

                          1. re: ZenSojourner

                            ZenSojourner, I bow to your superior ham experience! I had never cooked a ham nearly this big. It was a bit less than 24 inches. It only hung over the roasting pan a little bit. The problem was finding a vessel big enough to soak it in. And there was no way I had a pot big enough to boil it in.

                            (I am a single parent of one child. I usually cook small amounts! I was so excited to be having a group over that I went overboard and ordered this, for me, monster ham.)

                            1. re: NYCkaren

                              It's OLD experience. The last several times I've tried to buy a ham at the grocery they didn't have any good ones. Just the cheap brands that are injected with all kinds of crap to make them weigh more. I even asked the butcher (at the one store that still HAD a butcher) and he said the company that owned the store only dealt in the brands they had in the meat section already.

                              I never had a ham too big to soak in the sink - but we didn't do country hams all that often, that I can recall. It was a big sink, too, one of those old 40's metal monstrosities.

                              There's an actual meat market in town here, maybe I'll try that. However like you I was a single parent and my son doesn't care for ham, so much as I like ham myself, I seldom have any. I can't even get a good picnic ham anymore.

                          2. re: NYCkaren

                            Seeing this I saw the perfect pot. Its a tamale steamer, and that ham would easily fit into that pot. I'm sure you could get one at Mexican market but the one I saw was at a Savemart store (supermarket) here in town. You could easily soat it and cook it. The pot was heavy too, so I think it would work for you here.

                            You could also get a huge pasta pot too, I have one ( I rarely use) from W&S, but why spend $100 plus for it.

                            1. re: chef chicklet

                              My brother-in-law, who cooks at least two hams a year, swears that in order for things to go right, the ham *must* be able to fit into the pan horizontally. He said that if you try simmering it vertically, the meat starts to come away from the bone.

                              I have no idea if this is correct info, just passing it along. His hams always turn out great though...

                              1. re: Clarkafella

                                If it has to fit horizontally, a tamale steamer or pasta pot would definitely not work. What does your brother-in-law use, Clarkafella?

                                1. re: NYCkaren

                                  A turkey roaster- a *big* turkey roaster! I don't know where he got it- he has had it for years! I do know that when he is doing the simmering thing, the water level has to be up to the rim in order to cover everything. He watches it closely and adds small amounts of water frequently.

                                  Funny thing- after it has cooked (he finishes it in the oven with brown sugar and I think Coca-cola), he might nibble a little while he slices, but I don't think I've ever seen him really eat any- and he always gives whatever is left of it after lunch to me!

                            2. re: NYCkaren

                              Your ham looks great! I cook one ham a year (at Christmas), and I have an enormous pot which gets used once a year for the boiling of said ham....

                              1. re: NYCkaren

                                Oh boy, BTDT.

                                Husband bought a huge Virginia ham last year for Christmas and I didn't know if I should laugh or cry when I saw it.

                                We had to soak it in the sink, it was so big. Luckily, we have a huge turkey roaster and it sort of fit in that but with part of the leg hanging off the side.

                          3. When we were first married and just learning to cook, someone told us the definition of eternity was two people and a ham.

                            2 Replies
                              1. re: monku

                                Rombauer quoted it but it appears that Dorothy Parker actually wrote it.