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Ham for Thanksgiving

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

In addition to turkey I must have ham.  Must must must.  I'm responsible for the ham this year and I've decided to cook it with a honey mustard glaze, possibly with a little ginger as well.  My question is, what kind of ham should I buy?  In the past I have used Smithfield and also I have used Boarshead Black Forest Ham.  What should I look for in a ham?  So many times the ham is covered by the packaging and I can't see what I'm buying.  Can anyone please lend their expertise?

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #2 of 15

Boars head is a great product,but since it is already fully cooked I would not use.It dries out. I buy a good size quality smoked ham  trim the skin and some fat, score it with sharp knife then make a paste of brown sugar and prepared mustard (Frenches, Guildens) thats all.  place this paste all over ham and put in a slow(250) oven for about 2 1/2 -3 hours. Baste a few times. Comes out fantastic. Not dry and the flavor of mustard and sugar penetrates.. 

PS. To do a good ham, you need some outer fat covering

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #3 of 15

KK, while Ed's point about a pre-cooked ham is certainly valid, there a more fundemental issue. You've talked about both Westphallian ham and American country ham. But those have radically different taste characteristics, to begin with. And the curing methods are different as well, which also leads to some differences. Wesphallian's are ready to eat, for instance, whereas American country ham should almost always be cooked first.

 

Assuming you'll be starting with a country ham (and the best of them, btw, come from Virginia and Kentucky), you'll want one with the rind still attached, and a fair layer of fat. Depending on where you buy it, it should have either no packaging at all, or be enclosed in a cheesecloth-like netting. Sometimes you'll find them wrapped in white paper, but the best ones do not come that way.

 

Start by soaking the ham at least overnight, changing the water several times. Then precook it by boiling. Internal temperature should be roughly 140F at this point.

 

Remove the ham from the pot and let it rest until cool enough to handle. Remove the rind with a sharp knife. Score the fat bi-directionally to form a diamond pattern. Coat with your honey/mustard glaze. Bake in a 375F oven about 45 minutes.

 

For a distinctly Southern touch, use a cola glaze intead of the honey/mustard. If you want to try that let me know and I'll send you the recipe.

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #4 of 15
Thread Starter 

It's nearly impossible to find a country ham in NY.  I've never seen one here frown.gif

 

Good point about the boars head, I don't want to go with that.  What is westphallian?  Hams are confusing.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #5 of 15

Not a big fan of glazed hams. I prefer my ham to be ham, not doctored up much.  I'll confess I generally buy Costco's Kirkland spiral sliced hams for most of my ham consumption. Easy to heat and carve.  and leaves me a tasty bone for a soup. I discard their glaze packet of course.

Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #6 of 15

KK, didn't you say you've cooked Smithfields in the past? Those are country hams---heavily salted and hung for at least a year. Where'd you get the one you cooked?

 

There's a very thriving mail order business in hams, btw, and I have no doubt that if you do a search you'll find all sorts of places that will ship them.

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #7 of 15

Smithfield sells a boiled plain ham that is rather tasteless in the big grocery chains.

post #8 of 15

Westphalian hams are a group from southern Germany, all cured similarly. They usually, but not always, have "shnick" or "snick" as part of their names. Boar's Head Black Forest is a domestic version of them; which give you an idea of what they taste like.

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #9 of 15

Recognize this? We call it "hammetje" (little ham), it's also famous in Germany as "Schweinehaxe". I believe you call it ham hock. It's the part between the big ham and trotter. It's simply pork shank and I bought at my regular butcher's. These are already cooked by the butcher -well, poached- and skin removed. One of these will serve maximum 3 people, more like 2. I could have bought them raw and poach in a strong broth for almost 2 hours, but they were there and this was an impulsive buy and improvised recipe.

 

Some leave skin on and fry the ham -after poaching it- in the oven at low temperature. I went for natural.

I decided to make "stoemp" (pronounce stoomp), simply a mix of potato and a veggie of your choice. This time was leeks.

Chopped the leeks, put in a steampan and laid the ham on it a minute or so, to quickly get it to a temperature and to let the few remaining gelatine drip from the meat in the pan. Then continued in the oven at very low temperature, just to warm it through, nothing more.

 

I used a little of the now "flavored" cooking water under the very softly steamed leeks and reduced this liquid, added a teaspoon of powdered vealfond (Maggi), reduced some more (this vealfond will thicken the sauce a little), then added some Dijon-style mustard. Sauce done.

 

Mash potatoes, add leeks, mix, add a little butter, s&p. Done. Served with some chopped celery leaves.

This is simply delicious; no smoking, no curing, no dry salting, no glazing, just pure and natural.

 

hammetje1.jpg

hammetje2.jpg

post #10 of 15

Chris

I do this only using a Smoked Hock which we serve standing up on the plate as an Entree over caraway braised  shredded cabbage People love it with home made beans, and a roast potato wedge

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #11 of 15

I love ham for Thanksgiving. I'm more of a salt-cured or smoked kind of guy. Contrary to popular belief, not all Southerners prefer sweet ham. The last few years, the wife-to-be and her family have gotten hams from Heavenly Hams, which has both stores and an online catalog. I've never had any other mail order hams, so I can't speak to the comparitive quality or value, but they have been exceptionally good in my opinion. I believe they are smoked then honey glazed. Might be worth checking out. https://www.heavenlyham.com/locations/StoreHome.asp?storeId=NJ07&stateAbb=NJ

"We make our food; thereafter, our food makes us." - Winston Churchill (with a slight modification)
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"We make our food; thereafter, our food makes us." - Winston Churchill (with a slight modification)
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post #12 of 15

KouKou'...

 

A real country ham is a whole 'nother animal (so to speak) from your deli or Boar's Head ham. The good ones are salt-cured, smoked, and hung for a year or more to cure. For more than twenty years I have ordered one from Esicar's Smokehouse in Capr Girardeau, MO.  It's the town next to my ancestral farm in Jackson; my forebears raised Aberdeen Angus and cured their own hams since 1848. They've all passed away and I have never been a farmer, so I have to order.

 

http://management.semo.edu/schfa04/jmbruyette1s/esicars/faq.htm   Hold everything- read my edit

 

The Esicar family, which ran the smokehouse for 73 years, retired a few years ago, to my coinsternation, and I had to get year-before-last's ham from Colonel (what else) Bill Newsome's operation in Princeton, KY. They cure them for a year. The new operators of Esicar's don't cure them as hard as the original owners did, but they do a good job.Their whole hams - 14-16 pounds - run about $50 delivered, whereas the old, tough-as-leather hams from Newsome will be about $100.

EDIT- I got ham slices this week from Esicar's/Old Country Smokehouse in Cape Girardeau, and  I can no longer recommend it. Their website said $2.29 per pound for cooked slices, but the invoice was a little over $5.00 per pound.  With shipping, the slices came to just over $10/pound and... for country ham they ain't very good.  After several decades of ham from here, I'm through with them.  The

 new owners don't know from ham.  L:ast year I got several of their smoked sausages and a couple backs of bacon.  They weren't very good, either.

http://www.newsomscountryham.com

 

One word of advice - it is IMPERATIVE that you completely submerge the ham in water to cook it.  Since what you get is the back leg of a hog, this requires one he!l of a big pot.  I strongly suggest you have then cook it for you for a few extra bucks. It's winter - it will ship just fine by UPS. A few years ago, Esicar's forgot to cook mine and I had to go to a restaurant-supply place and rent a pot. You don't need the trouble.

 

KYH's cooking tips are right on - what the he!l, he's in Kentuckey - skin the hide off LEAVING a layer of fat, cutting shallow diamond-shapes in it - not down to the meat - and applying the garnish of your choice.  I prefer to put a whole clove into the fat in the center of each diamond, and then slathering with a mix of orange juice and mustard.  No Coca-Cola for me.

 

Then bake according to the directions you will be supplied. Let rest briefly, slice (hope  you have an electric knife) as thinly as possible; you'll get directions for that, too. There is definitely a right way to do it. Then sit down to enjoy. After a couple days, you can break down the remaining ham (1/4" slices for frying and don't forget  the Red Eye Gravy and grits, and more like 1/16" for sandwiches. All this freezes just fine, preferably in vacuum pouches. I've got some in the freezer that's two or three years old, and still makes great sandwiches.You should keep the unsliceable chunks to grind up for the best dang ham salad you will ever eat. (I like James Beard's recipe for this).Don't leave a scrap of meat on the bone.  Oh, and the bone goes great in a pot of beans.

 

If I have made this sound daunting - it really isn't, and the results will hook you for the rest of your life, as they have done to me. 

If you'ld like specific advice or some reassurance, feel free to PM me.  I always love a chance to pontificate.

 

Oh, and order pretty soon for a good selection, assuming you have the refrigerator space to hold it for a month.

 

Mike


Edited by MikeLM - 12/12/10 at 7:28pm
travelling gourmand
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travelling gourmand
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post #13 of 15

Mike, did you forget to flip your calendar? Thanksgiving is three days away, not a month.

 

Other than that, right on!  Except that I do have a large enough pot, so prefer cooking the ham myself.

 

KK, don't be put off by Mikes use of "hard" cured and "tough as leather." The only difference between a hard cure and a soft cure is that the latter includes sugar as well as salt and spices. But they have to be handled the same way, regardless. In theory, a soft cured ham doesn't have to be soaked and boiled as long; but I've never noticed a significant difference.

 

Where it does make a difference is that you can cut, say, a steak off a "raw" soft-cured ham, and just cook that portion. To do that with a hard cure would take a power saw and a lot of fotitude.

 

When I put up my own hams I always use a soft cure. But that's just personal taste.

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #14 of 15

KYH-

 

I've got a pretty good handle on the calendar. Koukou's post was this morning, so I just assumed she was talking Christmas ham, which is what I have done for years.  Little late for Thanksgiving, unless you stick to Boar's Head.

 

Mike 

travelling gourmand
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travelling gourmand
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post #15 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ed Buchanan View Post

Chris

I do this only using a Smoked Hock which we serve standing up on the plate as an Entree over caraway braised  shredded cabbage People love it with home made beans, and a roast potato wedge



That sounds utterly delicious!

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