HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


So, I went a bit crazy and bought a country ham. . .

Maybe because my 15 year reunion at my alma mater is coming up (in a place known for its country hams), or maybe because I'm crazy, but I went ahead and ordered a whole (14-16 lbs) country ham from Scott Hams out of Kentucky. Actually, I ordered the "proscuitto style" ham, which has been aged longer than their typical hams.* So, now I have a country ham coming, and I have no idea what to do with it.

So, for those of you with experience with either country hams, proscuitto or jamon, how do you slice and/or serve your hams? What do you serve them with? I think I'm going to have to buy a ham knife, but do I need a ham stand?

*The cost per pound is ridiculously low. The ham, plus shipping, was $71, or about $5 per pound.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
    1. re: pRon

      Here's the link to Scott Hams. The pre-shipping cost was $57.50 for the proscuitto style ham.


    2. Slice paper thin, put on a biscuit or crustini, get a glass of grape, perfect!

      4 Replies
      1. re: cstr

        Should I get a ham knife or a ham stand?

        1. re: jmtreg

          I agree with cstr that you should treat it gently, not recook it, and serve it simply. I might add some cheeses to serve as a "palate balancer" or offer thinly sliced baguette,* but other than that . . .

          As to a ham knife or stand, they might be more of an investment than the ham, but if you're looking to impress, the stand, at least, will. Otherwise, I've used my filet knife quite successfully to thinly slice country hams like the one you, wisely, selected.

          *Hell, even the breads are optional.

          1. re: cstr

            Yes, on a southern biscuit sliced paper thin. Mustard is optional.

          2. We use ours in everything - as topping on pizza blanco, sauteed in butter and mixed with eggs, in sandwiches and biscuits. I am a big fan of Edward's boneless country ham. We went through two between Thanksgiving and Easter this year.

            1. I called them up and Jean was most helpful. Your style ham is meant to be eaten as is, but she likes hers warmed up a bit.

              Which means to me served with melons, stone fruit, and hard cheese if you want.

              Well done.

              Wadding up enough tinfoil will serve as a stand, and any knife that is long enough to cut in one slice should be enough. No reason to get the accoutrements unless this will be an ongoing occasion.

              I recommend the chrome ham bone handles. Sterling silver if it is in your budget.

              1 Reply
              1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                Most country hams are actually "ready to eat", but for some reason folks insist upon recooking 'em and increasing the salinity. There is a great discussion of the subject in the link I posted above.

                As to knife, I agree that any long blade will do, buy a thin, sharp blade will help make thin slices easier than say cutting with a chef's knife.

              2. As a born & bred Kentuckian, gotta ask: where's your alma mater?

                Treat it as the delicacy it is: thinly sliced, with no unecessary frou-frous. I'd do cat-head biscuits, melon slices, and something acidic to balance all the salt. While some claim the need to soak country ham, that's an abomination, IMHO.

                Unless you're going to be ordering often, why go the expense of the ham knife & stand?

                Happy eating!

                9 Replies
                  1. re: pine time

                    Also a born and bred Kentuckian...I received a ham stand ...and a ham!!!!... for my wedding registry. But it is not a necessity. I prefer a thin slice on beaten biscuits. If you are doing cats head biscuits make a little red eye to go with. I have learned since moving to the coast a little chopped into your biscuit mix is pretty tasty too.

                    1. re: LaLa

                      I'm curious, do you hold to the old time tradition of recookin', or do you just leave it on the counter and slice?

                      1. re: MGZ

                        Both. I prefer it slightly warmed, especially to get some lovely fond (which works great for that red eye gravy), but it's equally delicious at room temp.

                        And: if there's any appreciable fat, slice it off and add to those over-cooked-but-delicious green beans.

                        1. re: pine time

                          In terms of storage, as far as I can tell, I should cover the cut portions of the ham with some plastic wrap and/or a cloth.

                          1. re: pine time

                            But, to be clear, you don't recook the whole ham, right? Just take it out and slice. Maybe fry up a piece or two at a time?

                            1. re: MGZ

                              I am not going to cook the ham at all. That's why I got the proscuitto-style (which I suppose is extra aged) ham.

                              1. re: jmtreg

                                Good. That's what I've been suggesting all along. Also, that's what the link I posted explained. Recooking country ham is sinful.

                      2. Thinly sliced on sweet potato biscuits, shaved, fried and served over grits with red eye gravy, poached in bourbon and made into ham salad by adding a large amount of butter and bourbon poached ham to a food processor and spread on biscuits and crackers, added to a big pot of fresh collards and cooked overnight in a slow cooker with a bit o' sugar and chicken stock and cider vinegar....I could go on and on and on...

                        There's nothing better than a big ol' slice of country ham with your breakfast...

                        1. Oh my! I LOVE country ham. I get mine from Kite's near Charlottesville, VA. I alternate years between lamb and ham for Easter dinner. I may have to get a ham anyway, even though this is a lamb year.

                          There are SO many ways you can serve it. In addition to what's been already expounded upon, I love it slivered on biscuits with marmalade. Great for brunch with Champagne!

                          1. try jezebel sauce when you're eating that ham on some biscuits. some people substitute apricot preserves for the pineapple preserves. you could even use peach! http://www.lanascooking.com/2012/04/0... this stuff is ridiculously simple yet so savory with ham! you might just start eating it out of the jar.

                            also, look at these bacon and scallion hoecakes in "garden & gun" magazine*: http://gardenandgun.com/article/bacon... , and think of using bits of your country ham with the scallions, instead of the bacon in the recipe. for a party, you could make little ones, and top them with a little dab of mustard-tinged sour cream, topped with a touch of a sprightly green tomato relish. talk about gilding the lily! LOL. (it just now occurred to me, you could "tinge" the sour cream with a bit of jezebel sauce instead of the straight up mustard).

                            *(by the way, "garden & gun" magazine is terrific if you love the south. it has quality writing, photos, interesting topics and high-grade production values).

                            1. Don't forget spoon bread! Especially with a pat of meltingly delicious butter running down the sides.

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: pine time

                                Oh my...spoon bread makes me so happy

                                1. re: LaLa

                                  Damn. . .I totally forgot about spoon bread.

                                  1. re: LaLa

                                    When we go "back home" to Kentucky, we must go to Boone Tavern in Berea. I start smiling, just walking in, knowing we're going to have spoon bread from their ancient little blackened skillets. Think I'll add spoon bread to tomorrow's Easter country ham menu. With White Lily flour biscuits and coconut cake. Must. begin. fasting. today.

                                  2. re: pine time

                                    I have never had spoon bread, though I've flagged recipes over the years. Is there any special way to serve the ham with spoon bread or do they just accompany each other?

                                    1. re: emily

                                      They just happily co-exist on the plate.

                                  3. Is it already cooked? If not, you do need to leach it, but that will leave you with stock for soup to serve along with it, say split pea. You can use some of the stock for "basting" so you can also make gravy.

                                    7 Replies
                                    1. re: law_doc89

                                      Country hams are always already cooked in the sense that they are cured. The entire premise to this thread is that the OP is not going to be recooking the leg.

                                      1. re: MGZ

                                        To clarify, ready to eat or not. OP didn't specify, so may not know.

                                        1. re: law_doc89

                                          As discussed above, and detailed in the link I provided, country hams are, pretty much by definition, ready to eat.

                                          1. re: MGZ

                                            If you don't have a "ready to eat" you will be eating something too salty to eat. You do need to check. It should say on the ham.

                                            This link will explain according to the curing time whether you can eat it straight, or have to prepare it. It sounds like OP bought a type that is not ready to eat.


                                            I like the following:

                                            Soak 24 hours in cold water. Have ham completely covered. Pour off water. Fill pot with fresh water again; cover ham completely. Add white vinegar; simmer, do not boil, at 25 minutes per pound. The last 2 hours add apple cider and brown sugar. When 2 hours is up, remove ham and put in baking pan. Remove layer of fat. Place in oven at 300 degrees and cook 1 more hour, basting with pineapple juice and mustard.

                                            1. re: law_doc89

                                              First, as INDIANRIVERFL posted: "I called them up and Jean was most helpful. Your style ham is meant to be eaten as is . . . ."

                                              Second, as noted in the link I posted a couple days ago, country hams do not need to be recooked. Recooking ''em is what leads to the over saltiness. That's why they do that silly soaking thing. It leaches out some of the salt and then concentrates what's left so much that it's still quite saline. Read the blog post I suggested above.

                                              1. re: MGZ

                                                Got, it, Cooks's Illustrated publishes bad information, and leaching fails to remove salt which increases with cooking.

                                                1. re: law_doc89

                                                  Have you read the posts on this thread? Or just skimmed the OP?

                                                  For what it's worth CI is populist drivel. A few notches below the level of food knowledge espoused by many long time 'hounds.

                                    2. @jmtreg

                                      Make sure you read this link:


                                      Before you rely on unwritten assurances, or bloggers.



                                      11 Replies
                                      1. re: law_doc89

                                        "Make sure you read this link:"

                                        Why? The OP bought a ham intended to be eaten without recooking. What's the point of the CI nonsense for a "ready to eat" ham? I have had a coupla dozen country hams in my life and none were bettered by boiling or baking. Do you boil your Westphleans or Prosciutto?

                                        1. re: law_doc89

                                          Let’s see.

                                          Take advice from an anonymous poster whose tastes and experience are unverified instead of Cooks Illustrated. Makes sense.

                                          Someone who says he never soaks it can tell what a soaked one will be like. Makes sense.

                                          Waste the opportunity for a huge amount of superb stock for soup and gravy, also makes sense.

                                          Never, ever, read Cooks!

                                          Got it.

                                          BTW I have lost count of the number I have cooked going back to assisting my mother and grandmother when young.

                                          1. re: law_doc89

                                            I spose that since you know more than the lady who made the ham, all other opinions are worthless.

                                            Got it.

                                            1. re: law_doc89

                                              Most country hams are aged 3-6 months after they have been cured and smoked. This ham, on the other ham, has been aged over a year, probably around 18 months. In fact, its been sold as a "proscuitto style" ham, and is aged longer so that it can be eaten without cooking, which I have been doing.

                                              As expected, its salty as hell, but funking in a good way. The key to serving it is to make sure there is something bland or sweet to serve it with. Country ham and biscuits (with honey), yes. Country ham and toast (with jam), awesome. Country ham and aspargus? Good, but not great.

                                              Oh, and the other thing I've learned - SMALL PORTIONS. The first night I slightly overindulged and my fingers swelled up.

                                              1. re: jmtreg

                                                If you go to the Scott's web site, you will see that some hams are listed as "cooked" others "uncooked." The one you bought has no designation. I suspect hambone has been eating cooked hams not knowing it, and your ham was also cooked, they just neglected to say so in print.

                                                It is astonishing the bad information some are willing to give out. I'll stand by CI over any "blogger."

                                                Glad you lucked out and enjoyed the ham.

                                                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: law_doc89

                                                  law doc, you missed a much earlier post from indian river chowhound:

                                                  " INDIANRIVERFL Mar 26, 2013 11:09 AM
                                                  I called them up and Jean was most helpful. Your style ham is meant to be eaten as is, but she likes hers warmed up a bit."

                                                  *jean* is the lady at scott's, the ham maker.

                                                  the OP him/herself noted that it was the *prosciutto* style ham from scott's.

                                                  that is how scott hams designates it, as "prosciutto style." as prosciutto style, does it *need* to say "uncooked but cured"? i guess i am just missing the whole point of your beef. LOL.

                                                  1. re: alkapal

                                                    Please see my above post with the answer from Scott's Hams.

                                                    I fear OP heard what OP was hoping to hear. Most people, because of sales trends do not realize that they are often buying (in supermarkets or gift stores)a prepared product, and that when buying direct from a producer you have to check which.

                                                    I am sure there are all sorts of "bloggers" out there who opine with great confidence, not knowing they are buying ready to eat; they tend give bad advice.

                                                    Anyone who knows how to cook knows what to do with one of these, knows how dumb it is to eat the thing unprepared, and knows it is criminal to pass up several quarts of some of the best stock you will taste.

                                                    There are all sorts of things one can get away with eating unprepared, so? It isn't the necessarily the desirable way.

                                                    From OP: "The first night I slightly overindulged and my fingers swelled up." Hm!

                                                  2. re: law_doc89

                                                    I've done a fair amount of research on this (beyond bloggers), and again, a country ham is generally safe to eat uncooked. Its not typically done so, but that's because most country hams are aged for 3-6 months and are a bit too wet to cut when uncooked. But they are cured for as long as, if not longer than, proscuitto or Spanish jamon, which is why they are shelf stable, even in 85-95 degree heat of summer.

                                                    Scott Hams age their product for at least a year, and the proscuitto-style hams for longer than that. So, the ham I purchased was meant to be consumed without cooking. Keep in mind that a fair number of Kentucky hams are not soaked and boiled, but are warmed up with redeye gravy.

                                                    Lastly, take a look into the issue beyond Cook's Illustrated (which, by the way, doesn't say anything about eating country ham uncooked, just says how to cook a country ham), and check out some long-aged country hams uncooked.

                                                    S.E. Edwards & Sons, Inc., has a 18 month old ham it calls, "Surryano" (a play on Serrano ham), which is highly regarded (and $200). Benton's hams are aged well over a year, and are beloved by chefs to be consumed raw. Col. Newsome's hams are aged for 27 months(!), but you have to get on a waiting list to get one. The reason why I went with Scott Hams was that their product was highly regarded, and deemed well balanced between salt, smoke and funk.

                                                    On the other hand, these hams can be somewhat pricey, so you could by a ham that's relatively unaged, and then hang it up somewhere to age for awhile (which I would do, but fiancee would be pissed at me, and my dog would try to eat the ham). Mmm. . .ham.

                                                    This is not to say that cooking country ham is a crime against nature. If done right, a cooked country ham has a texture similar to an aged cheddar. Crudo ham (cured but not cooked), has a slightly silkier texture.

                                                    1. re: jmtreg

                                                      i've had "surryano" from our local cheese and wine shop, and i think i paid $28/pound. it was good, but i think i still prefer the serrano and prosciutto.

                                                      let me tell you about a great source for cured pig products beautifully cured here in virginia. i've met the people involved at a food show here in northern virginia (IGF), and tasted many of their pig products. WOW, they are delicious (I don't have any commercial relationship here).

                                                      "olli salumeria" is their name. http://www.olli.com you can now order online, or use product finder for some products, like their excellent salumi. their speck, sliced as thinly as prosciutto, melts in your mouth! (don't know why it is shown so thickly sliced in this photo) https://www.olli.com/product/speck/

                                                    2. re: law_doc89

                                                      Your description of proscuitto production, specifically the method, purpose and effects of pressing, is incorrect.
                                                      The purposes of the pressure are:
                                                      a) application of a further stimulus to the draining of the femoral vein and its branches;
                                                      b) settling of the fat part in relation to the lean part which, among other things, facilitates the function of penetration of the salt;
                                                      c) the thickness of the muscular mass is reduced, subject to osmotic phenomena which are produced in the course of the subsequent phases.

                                                      (from the official Prosciuto di San Danielle website: http://www.prosciuttosandaniele.it)

                                              2. , I sent them an email over the weekend and here is the advice, in writing, I received from the owner:

                                                "Most folks who purchase the prosciutto eat it without cooking, sliced very very thin. But it is not a cooked product. It is similar to the items 501 and 502 but cured or aged longer. They are two years old. Personally I would recommend that you cook the slices on each side about 30 seconds or until they are heated through. I do. We do sell a fully cooked and ready to eat product. # 153 - 1 pound packages, and a whole ham cooked and sliced # 53. and a whole ham cooked and not sliced #52. The last three items (fully cooked) are all boneless. They were items 502 before being cooked. Thanks and let me know if you have other questions. You may call me at 1-800-318-1353 if you would like."

                                                7 Replies
                                                  1. re: law_doc89

                                                    So, to be clear, you sent an e-mail to the producer who then fundamentally reiterated what someone else had already learned with a phone call and posted above. Moreover, the producer did not suggest boiling in their answers to either of the inquiries they received.

                                                    Got it.

                                                    Curing, fundamentally, was a substitute for using heat to "cook" meats. A ham cured for two years is, for all intents and purposes, designed to be eaten without recooking. The fact that there are traditions that create a big production out of recooking country hams, does not change this fact. I mean, should folks boil beef jerky or ceviche?

                                                    At bottom, what's the issue? Are you trying to be the arbiter of health aspects or simply stick to your guns about the ways you've enjoyed country ham before? For the past decade or more, restaurants around the country have been treating American country hams the way they treat Iberico, Serrano, and various other European hams for centuries. It's good eats, pure and simple.

                                                    1. re: MGZ

                                                      " But it is not a cooked product."

                                                      " But it is not a cooked product." For whatever reason you have this thing about cooked means cured, and the the only ham worthy is an unwashed ham. Whatever. The majority of cooks will disagree with you many reasons. But iti is a waste of time here to attempt to discuss it. If you lookback, my big sin was to suggest checking the instructions on the ham itself I Ah well! Bye

                                                      1. re: law_doc89

                                                        Yeah, let's ease up on the flame war. And seriously, try a nice, well-aged, country ham without cooking it first. It's pretty awesome.

                                                        1. re: jmtreg

                                                          I wished I'd have known that-also wished I'd have read instructions first :(

                                                          1. re: iL Divo

                                                            Well, country ham is REALLY strong in flavor - not only is it salty, and smoky, but its also a bit funky. So, even if you were to boil it (after soaking for a long time in water), the ham may still not be to your liking, especially if the ham isn't sliced paper thin.

                                                  2. Ummmm this sounds perfect for a large group gathering where people are mingling and need exquisite food to go with their numerous drinks!

                                                    I would find someone to let me use their commercial slicer, slice the ham as thinly as possible (while still holding together), make a long "river" of prosciutto on a plank and surround it with sliced fruits, cheeses, pickled veggies, crackers/flatbreads etc.

                                                    I might recruit a few other attendees to bring these accompaniments. They're probably wondering what to bring as well.

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: applgrl

                                                      how can you use a commercial slicer? think of slicing a prosciutto ham; i thought it is following the contours of the shank.

                                                      but…now that i think more about it, i remember a food show here the guy sliced me some speck, and he had a slicer that sliced extremely thinly. i guess it depends on the cut of the meat whether you can use a commercial slicer. (and obviously where the bone (f any) is located…

                                                      edit: this link says it can be done either against the grain (more fragile) or with it (chewier). http://www.ehow.com/how_7375305_cut-p...

                                                      1. re: applgrl

                                                        The commercial slicer would be tough to use given the bones. I'm using a Santoku, and shaving thin slices off of the ham. So far, no need for a ham holder or a ham knife.

                                                      2. good luck with your country ham.
                                                        have you bought one before?
                                                        have you ever had one?
                                                        make sure to read the instructions as mine, yes I bought one for Thanksgiving or Christmas 2 years ago and hadn't thoroughly read instructions. I hadn't soaked it long enough.
                                                        let us know how it turns out.

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: iL Divo

                                                          Yes, I've purchased a country ham before. Last time, and this was back in college, my mom tried cooking it and didn't slice it thinly enough. In Virginia, and especially Williamsburg, country ham was everywhere, and it was sliced paper thin.

                                                          Oh, if you do cook it, I think boiling may be the way to go, given the saltiness of the ham. Even then, thinly slice it. The thicker the slice, the more you chew, the saltier it tastes. When its thin, the ham just melts on your tongue.

                                                          Oh, and the ham is great. I've been eating it slowly since last week.

                                                          1. re: jmtreg

                                                            When I lived in Maryland I bought a huge ham boiler at an auction but never used it because, after all, I never did a country ham. Local belief was that a country ham was too salty unless you boiled it. Myth?

                                                        2. I've bought both country hams (from Virginia, can't recall the producer's name) and proscuitto-style Berkshire ham. I don't know what to do with the country hams that have the slight whiff of musty/mummy decomp and green fuzz on them (never found a way to prep them that my Northern family would eat and enjoy) but Virginia Berkshire proscuitto-style is wonderful. Eat it like it is prosciutto - cured and salted but "raw" in terms of not having been heat cooked.

                                                          1. Reading this thread made me realize how country my family is...the hams hung up in the ham celler and you just went out and got what you needed! I don't have a ham celler these days and live 500miles from my family's so mine hangs in the garage!

                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: LaLa

                                                              That's not country, that's awesome. Do you make your own hams or do you buy hams and then age them? Heck, throw on some skinny jeans and you're practically a hipster.

                                                              1. re: jmtreg

                                                                The whole slaughter house route of course!

                                                            2. I've come lat to this "party" - a year +. My favorite way of having country ham: corn meal pancakes as a base, thinly sliced ham on top of that, oysters heated in their own juice with butter on top of the ham. After stacking this combination of wonderfulness, spoon the oyster juice over it making sure it can infiltrate the pancakes. Fantastic!