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Ham - Harrington's, HoneyBaked, Burger's Smokehouse or something else?

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Calling all ham lovers. I am lucky this year! I get to host Christmas dinner! I haven't done it in about 10 years (I usually just host a special breakfast). And because I host Thanksgiving for everyone, my sister-in-law usually hosts Christmas dinner. But she can't this year because she is moving.

But I love cooking so I am honored to be making Christmas dinner. For the main protein, the consensus of the group is they want ham. I would prefer prime rib roast, but nope we have to stick with tradition (So I make prime rib for New Year's). My sister-in-law, who does not like to cook, usually gets a supermarket spiral ham which she heats and uses a prepackaged glaze and serves with Heinz gravy.

I generally find this ham dry and would like to kick things up a notch. However, I was warned big time to keep things traditional. So no country hams, no loins of pork, no fresh hams and such. I have a wonderful plum glaze recipe for the ham, plus I will make a homemade raisin sauce on the side. (I'm also making a pan of lasagna and a small pot roast to round out the main course).

So I was scouring around the web for hams because my local supermarket doesn't offer much selection. I found three "spiral" hams that people seem to love - Harrington's in Vermont, Burger's Smokehouse, and HoneyBaked.

http://www.harringtonham.com/prod.cfm...
http://www.smokehouse.com/burgers.nsf...
http://www.honeybakedmailorder.com/p-...

So what do you like and what would recommend for my group? Thanks!

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  1. I just had a Harrington's ham steak and it was very good indeed. I love the Berkshire ham from these folks but they don't have a spiral-sliced one. http://www.heritagepork.com/berkshire...
    Nueske's is utterly reliable. http://www.nueskes.com/shop-by-depart... If you order from them, get yourself some bacon and corned beef hash as well!

    1. I would always go with a Harrington ham. One of my very favorites to be honest.

      1. I'm lucky because I usually get to do prime rib for Christmas. Ham is an Easter treat in my family. Like you, I've always wanted to do a country ham, but my family is just as set in their preferences as mine. I usually order a Honey Baked for pickup because there's a store just minutes from me. I've gotten it with and without the glaze added on. It fries up very nicely as hamsteaks to bot. It's never dry and everybody loves it. However, I wouldn't be surprised if there were better to be had. I just haven't searched further because of the deliciousness and convenience. Ain't nothing like ham for the holidays!

        1. I ended up ordering a Nueske's Old Fashioned Bone In Ham (Half). Not spiral sliced, we'll do it ourselves. My guests shouldn't care about that. Nueske's has a good special running right now, when you order by phone, if you ask for a special code, you can get a free pound of bacon. I'll let you know how it goes after Christmas. Thanks everyone for your help!

          1. I've only had Honeybaked probably because of it's availability in So Cal. We've never been disappointed for 15+ years.

            1. Groff's Meats in Lancaster, Pa.have a whole or half ham, bone-in or out that l have been getting for decades. Low in salt and no water added, it is fabulous. l always get the bone-in whole, weighs about 17-20 lbs, and makes awesome leftovers as well. Remember though what was said that Eternity may be defined as two people and a ham.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                That's my favorite ham-related quotation. First saw it in Joy of Cooking, I believe. From the department of more truth than poetry.
                We're big fans of Burger's Smokehouse, by the way. Try them sometime!

                1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                  Great quote, have heard for years... thanks for Elaine May and Mike Nichols.

                2. I would respectfully suggest that you test Honeybaked before you buy one. I find them to be watery and bland.

                  1. The Nueske's ham and the bacon just arrived intact in a cooler with ice paks. All looks good. Can't wait to make them on Christmas. Would love to do a taste test of a bunch of these hams.... So I'll keep some of the others in mind throughout the year. I'll also report back on the Nueske's which I plan to heat up with my plum glaze.

                    1. Boar's Head whole or half hams are the best I've ever had.

                      1. Honestly, I would go with the Honey Ham. Why? Because the delicious nuances that you appreciate in your food/ham most likely won't be noticed or appreciated by most of your guests. Most people wouldn't know the difference between a Walmart spiral ham and the finest ham you could buy (except they might like the Walmart one more b/c it is what they know.) If your guests won't even vote for a rib roast, which is far better than any ham (or allow you to pick since you ARE the host), then they won't appreciate you putting in a lot of thought and buying a super high quality ham.

                        I am just being realistic here. I LOVE super high quality stuff, but most people are so used to average, the effort goes totally unnoticed. Keep it simple for yourself and just feed the masses their average food.

                        12 Replies
                        1. re: sisterfunkhaus

                          Sisterfunkhaus, sadly I have to agree with you.

                          After the ham arrived today, I got a terse email from my sister in law saying that the gang would rather not come to my house but would like to spend it instead at her ex mother in law's home because it is easier for them. We would be welcome to bring our ham (if we like!!!). I have also been informed not to bother with anything else, they'll make the green bean casserole (which was NOT on my menu).

                          I'm quite saddened. I do indeed feel I have just wasted my time, money, and enthusiasm trying to put on a beautiful Christmas dinner. My husband and I bought special table linens and napkins, and we were really looking forward to it. Anyway, I don't want to be a humbug.

                          1. re: TrishUntrapped

                            Families!!! What a drag.

                            1. re: TrishUntrapped

                              Wow, some not so nice passive aggressive family behavior there...I'm sorry. But, as they say, don't cast your pearls before swine. Save the ham for a kick out blast with really good friends or a terrific New Year's brunch. Bring them a jello mold... ;)

                              1. re: berkleybabe

                                After thinking about things overnight, my husband was especially distraught over how we were treated. Becasue the home where we are going has extremely limited kitchen facilities, my SIL told us to bring the ham heated and ready to serve. She is making the sides at her daughter's home two days ahead of time and will reheat at the home.

                                Our supermarket is selling spiral hams for $15, and I think that's what we'll bring. We'll have the Nueske's at New Year's. We'll still go for dinner, but our tradition may change next year.

                                1. re: TrishUntrapped

                                  Forget heating the ham, more thankless work for you...it's not going to stay warm on the way over and it'll be fine at room temp. If they want it heated, let THEM slice it and warm it up in the microwave or oven. I think you're being incredibly gracious even bringing the ham or going at all. SIL sounds like a total piece of work...

                                  1. re: TrishUntrapped

                                    Good idea!

                                  2. re: berkleybabe

                                    "Don't cast your pearls before swine" .. though in this case, it was some high-quality swine that was going to be cast! Maybe we should say ""don't cast your swine before churls" (sorry that was the best I could do.. and if you're wondering what a "churl" is, see http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictio... ).

                                    I agree that it's some rather sad passive-aggressive behavior... I wonder if TrishUntrapped's excitement at the opportunity caused the sister-in-law to decide to short-circuit her to avoid the possibility of being displaced from the Christmas hosting role permanently.

                                  3. re: TrishUntrapped

                                    Man, sorry, I hope it's better than you think, for what it's worth.

                                    1. re: TrishUntrapped

                                      By email, not even a phone call? I'm sorry this happened to you. People can be quite thoughtless and downright cruel, and it's even worse when it's family. The words that would have landed on her ears from my mouth........she'd probably never want to see my face again! Frankly, I wouldn't attend but that's the way I am. Happy holidays to you and try to enjoy the season.

                                      1. re: TrishUntrapped

                                        Yikes..your SIL sounds incredibly rude. So after you've been planning a Christmas Eve dinner they go and change the plans? I would waste the good ham on them. Sounds like they have very low culinary standards..serving sides that were prepared days earlier is unacceptable and poor..but families can be challenging..lol
                                        I like your idea of saving the ham for New Years..although I am guessing you wish you knew about this change of plans before you invested the money into having a good ham.
                                        In fact..I guess if you wanted to have a bit of fun..you could buy one of those canned hams..bring it..plop it on a place and announce "dinner is served" ..( I am just kidding of course.,.,lol)

                                        1. re: SimplyMarie

                                          Marie, this was my initial thought as well...opening the crappy ham with a can opener and hearing that slooosh and then the plop and the congealed gel. Awesome payback. BUT, it'll feed into that negativity...but we can always dream...

                                          Hope Trish changes plans for next year and does what SHE wants.

                                          1. re: berkleybabe

                                            OMG, yet ANOTHER change of events, this time for the good.

                                            The people at the home where the dinner was relocated to have said although they would like to host it they can't because they do not have an adequate kitchen or dining area. (Yes, this is something my husband and I already knew would be the case.) Apologies and amends have been made have been made and accepted for all the miscommunications and hurt feelings.

                                            As a result, dinner is back on at our home, and we're back with Plan A.

                                            Our menu is pretty straight forward: Shrimp cocktail and fresh fruit cup for starters. Dinner: Plum Glazed Nueske Bone-In Ham, Cornflake crumb roasted potatoes, lemon pepper string beans, baked pineapple, as well as lasagna and pepperoni cheese bread. Dessert - Christmas Cookies and English Plum Pudding served with hard sauce.

                                            I'm happy that we can all enjoy this time together.

                                            Thanks everyone for the good advice - ham and otherwise.

                                    2. We have done several orders from Harrington's, but cannot recall hams. For those, we normally order Country Ham from Benton's.

                                      To date, everything from Harrington's has been good.

                                      Hunt

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                                        i love benton's and order from them for our once a year ham fest. but it would be wasted on people who think ham in a can and country smoked are interchangeable. save it for those who will savor it.

                                        1. re: teezeetoo

                                          I do not send Benton. That is for us, and we appreciate their products. They are not for everyone, and that goes 5x for their Country Ham - not to everyone's taste.

                                          As for Harrington's, we have also been impressed, and just did four orders for friends/family. As we will be traveling for quite a bit, we decided to not order anything for us, but that is not the norm.

                                          Hunt

                                      2. My recommendation is Coursey's Smokehouse in St. Joe, AR. They don't have a web site... you'll have to call them. I don't think they do country style ham... just good, old fashioned smoked hams and bacon and jerky, etc., etc. The best I've ever had.

                                        Coursey's
                                        Highway 65, Saint Joe, AR 72675
                                        870-439-2503

                                        1. We ordered Harrington's Ham for the first time this year. The instructions indicate "WE DO NOT RECOMMEND HEATING THIS HAM" This information is included in the packaging-NOT in their advertisement. I would DEFINATELY NOT BUY THIS PRODUCT AGAIN.
                                          As well, the special advertised price for the turkey breast is $25, this $25 folks, gives you a 1.75lb PRECOOKED turkey breast. AGAIN, not suitable for your Easter dinner guests. More appropriately, this would be good for sandwiches. But frankly, who would pay $7 per pound for precooked, chemically injected turkey breast?

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: Tooley

                                            Sorry that you have had bad experiences. We have ordered from Harringtion's of Vermont quite a few times, and have enjoyed our orders. Now, I only have the "thank yous" for the recipients of other orders, and maybe they had issues, that they did not state.

                                            Harrington's of Vermont has impressed me on their Customer Service, so I would definitely contact them, and discuss your displease. I have a feeling, that they would try to make things "right" with you.

                                            Good luck, and hope that they step up, and help you out.

                                            Hunt