Education on smoked pork shoulder ham
I don't know much about this subject. There are 3 different cuts I have noticed. There is the picnic that has a netting..currently the olymel brand is on sale...and then there are two different cuts... One has a round end, the other has a shank like bone at the end... I suspect the last two are cut in half and if they weren't they would make a whole shoulder.
My questions are.. What is a picnic and what cuts listed are best and why. The what to do with then once you bring them home? Any other suggestions or advise would be great. Thx
I have a related question - are smoked picnics a regional thing, or have they gone out of fashion, or what? It seemed like when I lived in Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, 30 years ago, they were readily available, but here in Northern Virginia in 2013, I haven't seen any in checking about 4 stores from different chains. Suggestions? I really like them much better than standard ham, particularly as an ingredient.
Ham (true ham?) is the rear leg. It has a few large muscles, with little connective tissue. Thus it makes nice large ham steaks, and pretty presentation slices (e.g. spiral sliced hams). Most rear legs are cured and sold as hams, but some butchers can get you a fresh (un cured) ham, which can be roasted whole.
The front leg is usually sold fresh, but may also be cured, in which case it is called a 'picnic ham'. There are more muscles here, with more connective tissue (tendons, etc) between them. Some parts are tender, others need long cooking to break down the cologen.
The upper end of the front leg, containing the shoulder blade is sold in various cuts (Boston but, shoulder, butt, country style ribs, pork steaks). Look for the piece of shoulder blade. Some of these cuts are boneless.
The shank end of a picnic ham contains the 'elbow' joint. The butt end of the picnic ham contains the shoulder joint. The shank end has a higher bone proportion, and if the skin is still on it, more skin. It tends to be priced cheaper.
Below the shank end is the shank itself (fore arm), hock, and foot. But those parts also come from the rear leg. The hock is often cured and used to flavor soups (and cooking beans and greens).
This will probably be moved to Home Cooking board.
However, picnic ham is the lower portion of the shoulder. It's actually a really nice ham, with a good amount of fat so it's quite juicy.
The traditional ham is from the hind leg. And it can be cut in half because it's very large. YOu get the familiar slices of lean ham from this cut. Get the shank end if you plan on making pea soup with the bone.
When you get home, read the instructions that probably come with it. Most likely they are cured and smoked but still need to be cooked. Then glazed etc.