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Cured Smithfield Ham, tomorrow's the day, how to's please

Second year in a row with a Smithfield cured/aged/smoked ham.
So it's been in a 5 gallen bucket 2 days with water being changd out every few hours.
We'll have turkey too but about this blame ham. I have the muslin wrapper it came in with instructions.
Although I can read, I'd like instructions from anyone who's attempted one of these specific hams.
Can I bake it in a self contained turkey roaster oven? Do I baste it? If so with what, how often? Do I let the skin get crisp? Will it even crisp up in a Norelco/GE plug in oven? How long do I bake it? It's 18-20 lbs and I will rinse it and rub it down to remove all extra curing salt before baking.
I know it's much to ask but I need professional ham cookers here.
Merry Christmas....

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  1. salt cured? ooh that's gonna be salty. scrub it down a lot. Southern friends recommend basting it with a coca cola over it while slow baking (vertically) to cut the salt and give it a nice crisp glaze.

    and don't chuck it when done, just slice small pieces to use year round in anything calling for ham hock, like navy bean soup, refried beans, greens, or lardons for salad etc.

    but frankly I was tempted to reserve an unscrubbed end maybe just a pound or two and see how I might cure it farther into a rough prosciutto crudo of sorts for Easter and slice it paper thin.

    1 Reply
    1. re: hill food

      Love your ideas. Who knew I could do that&vertical? Not sure there's room in be oven, but we'll see. I need a tall outdoor pizza oven :)

    2. I posted about my ham after Thanksgiving. I also got one of those huge Smithfields with a muslin wrapper. Much of it is in my freezer after I got the butcher at the market across the street to chop the bone up for me. I have been using bits of it to make soup as hill food suggests.

      Mine was way too big to fit in any pot I own. I had to cook it in layers of heavy-duty foil. It was good but very salty! Coca-Cola might be a good way to go, to counter the saltiness.

      1 Reply
      1. The only times I've made country ham, I followed Alton Brown's directions:


        And if you like a more hands-on demonstration, here he is on YouTube (the cooking part starts at 8:50 of the first video and wraps into the second):


        And yes, it's going to be salty. But so are its close cousins, prosciutto and Jamon Serrano. Follow their lead and slice it as thin as you can; a little bit has a lot of flavor.

        2 Replies
        1. re: alanbarnes

          Well now I really am concerned. I appreciate your help, all of your help. It's Chistmas morning and there is no butcher or butcher shop open so what to do? No saw and I wouldn't know what to do with it anyway. I'll scrub it and soda pop it but xtra thick foil, uh no, huge baking pan, uh no.

          It's waaaaaay after dinner. We did the water cooking method which was preferred on the packaging. It cooked way long enough, then went in the oven @400 for 25 minutes as we wanted the glazed outside so coke and brown sugar. Still way too salty. I love salt but not so mch of the family does. I'll take the rest home and do another baking swimming in cola. I'm hoping that'll cut be salt, but fear not.

          Oh well.....

          1. re: iL Divo

            You need to realize that you're working with a different paradigm. This ham will never be anything other than salty. It's a salted ham, fercryinoutloud.

            So match it with stuff that will offset the saltiness. Put a slice in a biscuit. Wrap some around a prune or a fig or (save us from out-of-season produce) a bit of asparagus. Slice thin pieces and layer them into a sandwich with other ingredients. Shave some onto a pizza. But above all else, stop thinking Cure 81 and start thinking prosciutto.

            Folks hear "ham" and they think "Honeybaked." There's nothing wrong with that. A "city" ham is cheap and easy to prepare, and everybody loves it. But if you're going to make a salt-cured ham, you should understand that it's a whole 'nother animal.

            So don't try to "cut the salt" and turn this ham into something it's not. Realize that it's a very special, very intense, very tasty thing of its own. It would be a disservice to dumb it down to a Farmer John ham steak.

            Folks pay north of $1000 for a pata negra ham that's salty as hell. You're tapping into the same vibe for a tiny fraction of the cost. Slice off thin bits and make the most of their flavor!

        2. Hope I'm not too late for you! If it fits in your oven you can definitely do it in that. Keep a little liquid in the bottom for the first 40 minutes - hour. If the lid has vents, keep the vents closed until the last hour and a half, then open the vents so there's air movement to crisp the fat. If your lid doesn't have vents crinkle a piece of foil up and wedge it under an edge of the lid to crack it a little. During the last half hour or so you can baste it with Coke if you want but I prefer to use a jam or jelly with a complimentary flavor. Orange marmalade is good, so is apple and cider or apple juice will work well all with a sprinkle of cinnamon stirred in. That canned cranberry sauce (the transparent stuff that holds the shape of the can and wiggles and jiggles) is a good baster too. And what really makes it for me is to dump a lot of mixed dried fruits around the bottom of it during that last hour to plump in the ham juices.

          Wish I was there! Hubby dislikes ham and I haven't enjoyed a Christmas ham in ages!

          1. What instructions are on the wrapper? I usually find things like that quite reliable.

            1 Reply
            1. re: c oliver

              Several options, water bake method, baking regular, scraping salt and mold off, changing out water days on end (which I thought would help but didn't). Water method 190* 25 minutes per lb.

            2. So? How did it turn out? I hope you weren't surprised if it was salty. It's a country ham (that's what we call it around here) it will be salty even after a soaking. Unlike regular hams it's meant to be savored in thin slices.

              I forget to add it makes great ham salad. Grind the ham up and mix it with Hellman's mayo (it MUST be Hellman's, my grandpa said so. ;-) I think Hellman's goes by the name of Best where you are) and sweet relish to taste.

              4 Replies
              1. re: morwen

                Read above about how it turned out.
                And we expected less salt..... I mean honestly for the money, I won't bet the farm again.

                1. re: iL Divo

                  Smithfield sells uncooked hams, cooked hams, country hams, ready to slice hams, sweet "City" spiral sliced hams and several other items. Since 1936.

                  You said it is your second year in a row with a Smithfield cured/aged/smoked ham. Was it that bad last time? You bought it again?

                  Honestly, I don't see one on their website which is cured/aged/smoked. On the site, the smoked are listed as having little prep time, the bone in fully cooked and Old World Cured Country style have instructions that they must be sliced paper thin to enjoy the full flavor...

                  Obviously the type you are purchasing isn't the type you like and you think their preparation instructions are incorrect. I think it may be a matter of taste. Try one of the other types, which may be more to your liking and/or cooking method.


                  1. re: Cathy

                    Cathy,I'm sure it's a wonderful product. I'm not doubting that or the company. I didn't say their preparation instructions were incorrect, I just didn't get the result I'd hoped for when following them.

                    I did buy it last year, read the muslin wrapper "after baking" and slicing only to see what we should have done in preparing it but didn't. That was my fault totally so I wanted to try it this year and do it right praying for a "perfect for us" result.

                    Dinner was ready when we arrived at our sons house yesterday with ham and pies in tow.
                    All were awaiting our arrival but daughters' garbage disposer died and husband and daughter were both struggling under her kitchen sink to find and fix the issue. That took
                    an hour + out of our day.

                    You know how quickly things can fall apart? Well yesterday...one after another, they did.

                2. I never considered country ham to be a main meat course. It does well as a breakfast meat with eggs and biscuits or cheese grits, and later in the day as snack food or an appetizer.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Veggo

                    That funny you mentioned that, Veg. While eating my breakfast of chorizo, onions, poblano puree scrambled with eggs and dumped in a corn tortilla, I had the same thought. Country ham with biscuits, country ham with eggs and red eye gravy, etc. Not sure I've ever had it as the main event at a dinner.

                    1. re: Veggo

                      Well shoot, who knew? < certainly not I.

                    2. Country ham is one of my favorite foods. Sounds like you prepared yours just right. Did you slice it paper thin? Probably not, as this takes a bit of practice. A favored way to eat this treat in Virginia is between two slices of buttered white bread. The bland bread and rich butter are perfect foils for the salty ham. Leftover keep forever in the fridge, and make yummy snacks and additions to the bean or soup pot. If you're looking to enjoy a thick slice of ham, this product is not the right one for you.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: pikawicca

                        Paper thin, altho I'd read in comments here to do that, as the post above states, dinner was there and ready to eat, except for the ham that had to glaze in their oven, 25 min...so slicing with an electric knife paper thin wasn't going to happen. So for that the slices were all I could get hubby to do. Too thick yes, his fault just, no time for precision.

                        1. re: iL Divo

                          Curious why you used an electric knife?

                          1. re: iL Divo

                            Country ham has been a luxury item for years. Fans plan their meals around this meat. The idea that dinner won't wait for proper slicing of the ham is blasphemy. Fathers teach their sons how to carve this delicacy at the table, in delicate slices that suit its intense flavor. If you're not willing to give this ham the care it deserves, serve something else.

                            1. re: pikawicca

                              And if one person in the group is unwilling or unable to do the slicing right, then replace that person :)

                        2. Country ham is eaten a lot around here all year long but you never see a whole ham being served. All of the above mentioned ways of serving it are done. It is served as the main protein in dinners but even then it's just a shaved slice or two as a portion. It can be bought in almost any local mainstream grocery store as shaved slices, small chunks, breakfast cuts, pieces intended for flavoring other things (soups, leather britches green beans, etc.) and whole hams which is the most economical way of buying one. Usually if someone buys a whole ham they're taking it home to eventually be broken down into smaller cuts over time.

                          Smithfield/country cured hams are a great product but unfortunately, people hear the hype without knowing how to use it, expect this great ham nirvana based on how city hams are cooked and eaten, and are startled, angry and disappointed when their main event is too salty, inedible in quantity at a single sitting, and to them, a dismal failure. A country salt cure was originally a preservation method meant for a ham that was intended to last a family an entire winter with portions being cut off as needed for meals not the entire ham served at once.

                          Don't bin it, freeze the leftovers in small portions. Use it a bit at a time to make a great bean soup (don't add salt until the end of cooking time to adjust the seasonings), thin slices with breakfast or sandwiches, shavings in a salad, on pasta or pizza, as a flavoring for cooked veggies, as an accent for cantalope=type melons. But any way you use it, you don't want to add salt. Taste before serving and adjust salt if necessary.

                          Look for Appalachian Mountain regional recipes for ways to use your ham.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: morwen

                            "Smithfield/country cured hams are a great product but unfortunately, people hear the hype without knowing how to use it"

                            you nailed that just right.
                            "don't bin it" oh really? You nailed that one too.
                            No worry there. I froze a pkg for our son and today he wants me to teach him how to make a split pea soup using 'it' as a flavor factor. Sorta like a hock sans the hock but flavor imparted. I'll help him make a good crusty bread using his bread machine too as he knows how good they are using mine, has no confidence that he can do it easily himself with his.

                            I know about salt curing or salt in general as preservation too morwen. I should have thought deeper about that.

                            It's always a learning curve with parents huh? < it's ok, I love it...... And him :)

                            1. re: iL Divo

                              I'm confused. I'm not sure if I bought the same product that Il Divo bought but I think I did. I did not click on "country ham." That was one of the other choices. I clicked on "Genuine Smithfield ham," I think. I described in my post last month the issues I had with it. It was way too long to fit in a pot, and even after soaking it was very salty. It was definitely saltier than I expected. Again, I know that country ham is salty. But I didn't click on country ham.

                              That said, I will keep making soup with pieces of the ham all winter. If I don't add any other salt to the soup it's fine. So I will get my money's worth.

                              1. re: NYCkaren

                                Smithfield's "country hams" are actually milder and less salty than their "Genuine Smithfield Hams." But they're both country hams, as opposed to sweet-cured city hams.

                              2. re: iL Divo

                                damn Divo! All this talk has kicked up a craving! Now I have to go out tomorrow and pick up a piece for bean soup! Perfect for dinner tomorrow. Snow's up to our you know's, sick of turkey, curl up with a bowl of bean soup and a movie!

                            2. just an update on the ham usage.
                              it's been wonderful.
                              today, making a vegetable soup with lots of vegetables/potatoes/barley/lentils/mushrooms.
                              smells delicious in the house, it's in the crocker. I sliced off a nice chunk of my ham with fat on it and stuck that in too. should be grand by dinner time. playing with a version of NYTimes bread too [with funny ingredients mozz/chives/caraway seedscorn meal] to go with dinner. it won't get the full rise but who cares, I know it'll work anyway.

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: iL Divo

                                Wait a minute! I thought you didn't like it. What happened in the last three weeks???

                                1. re: iL Divo

                                  I'm glad you're enjoying yours. Me too. I've used it in split pea soup, lentil soup, collard greens, fried rice and probably something else I've forgotten. There's still some in the freezer but I'm making a dent.

                                  1. re: NYCkaren

                                    yep, I still have a huge portion too and mostly in freezer but what's in the frig is doing me well.
                                    when you realize there are things to do with it except just slice and dine on, it's a winner.
                                    I'm finally very pleased with this ham and thinking, hum, maybe at the holiday I'll actually do it again.

                                    1. re: iL Divo

                                      cool. it is sort of an odd thing to get your head around at first. I almost balked at the "scrape the mold" instruction but reminded myself good Serrano hangs in a leather sack in a cave for years.

                                      1. re: iL Divo


                                        Sorry if my post above seemed - um - emphatic. Chalk it up to enthusiasm.

                                        I loves me some ham. I'll never turn my nose up at the Honeybaked, spiral-sliced, Cure 81 stuff. But a good salted ham is truly a thing of beauty.

                                        Seriously, try it by itself. Sliced as thin as you can, with a bit of good hard cheese. Or on crusty bread with some arugula or other bitter greens. A drizzle of honey to offset the saltiness? Sure, why not.


                                        1. re: alanbarnes

                                          Totally. I can't imagine taking one of those hams and using it just for flavoring. I like that cheese, arugula, honey combo. I'm not buying the Cure 81 however :)