Ham it up during the holidays

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Ham it up during the holidays

By ERVENA FAULKNER
features@islandpacket.com
Published Wednesday, November 7, 2012   |  708 Words  |  

As the holidays approach, a good cut of ham is on a lot of people's minds. Ham is the cut of the hog that includes the upper part of the hind leg. Unless fresh ham is specified, the term ham is taken to mean meat that has been salted and smoked. Many people shy away from ham because of the salt content. It can be a good taste of pork if one knows how to prepare it. For the most part, hams today have been soaked and much of the salt removed.

Today's methods of curing have improved so much that most hams need no soaking before cooking. The label on the wrapper usually gives specific information for cooking. Pre-cooked hams also are available in packaged and canned form. These can be served cold without any further treatment, or can be spread with brown sugar and baked just long enough to develop a glaze

There are a variety of ways to prepare ham. As you begin to plan the meat for the holiday season, these suggestions can be compared to family recipes passed down through the generations.

Boiled Ham

Scrub the ham with a small brush, using cold water, then immerse in hot water and brush the surface again. Place skin side down in a large pot and cover with water, either cold or hot. Bring almost to the boiling point and simmer until the meat is tender, allowing 25 to 30 minutes to the pound. Let cool in the liquor, if to be served cold, and remove skin and part of the fat before slicing. If to be served hot, remove from the liquor as soon a cooked and take off skin and superfluous fat.

To give a spicy flavor to the ham a mixture of herbs and vegetables may be added to the water in which it is cooked. A good combination consists of one small bay leaf, one small onion, one clove of garlic, one small carrot, one sprig parsley, a few celery leaves, and one sprig thyme.

The vegetables should be cut in small pieces. A cup of cider, cider vinegar or the juice of a lemon may also be added.

Source: Pictorial Review Cookbook

Baked Ham

Scrub ham and place it, skin side up in a roasting pan. Add one cup of water or cider. Cook at 300 degrees for 30 minutes, then reduce temperature to 275 degrees and cook until tender, 25 to 30 minutes.

After baking half the time, turn the ham, remove the skin and cover with brown sugar mixture and stick with cloves. Ham should be basted during the first part of cooking with a mixture of cider or white grape juice and water.

Source: Pictorial Review Cookbook

Broiled Ham

Either raw or boiled ham may be used for broiling. It should be sliced quite thin, not more than 1/4 inch in thickness. Place on a broiler and cook until slightly browned, turning frequently.

Source: Pictorial Review Cookbook

Country Ham with Red-eye Gravy

1 to 1 1/2-pound ham, sliced about 3/4-inch thick

1/3 cup water

Cut each ham slice into 6 pieces. Heat skillet over medium-high heat. Add ham and reduce heat to medium. Fry on one side 4 or 5 minutes, or until lightly browned. Turn and fry on the other side another 4 to 5 minutes or until lightly browned.

Remove skillet from heat. Remove hot ham slices with fork and place on platter or plate to serve. Return skillet to medium heat. Stir in water. Using a spatula to scrape crisp bits from bottom of pan as water comes to a boil to make the gravy. Reduce heat to low and cook for one minute. Serve immediately with fried ham. Goes well with hot grits.

Source: Southern Plantation Cooking

Columnist Ervena Faulkner is a Port Royal resident and a retired educator who has always had an interest in food and nutrition. Email her at features@beaufortgazette.com.