Cooking Ham Instructions

April 8, 2012 by staff 

Cooking Ham Instructions, The Ham Dance is upon us once again. A time for standing in front of the refrigerated section of the supermarket and wishing for divine intervention — to help choose the right ham for Easter.

A wet-cured “city” ham that is succulent and moist, without any graininess, without being so rubbery it will bounce, maybe to the ceiling, or oozing so much water during cooking that it is dry and stringy. It is a time to sway rhythmically, looking at one ham, then the other, moving from foot to foot in indecision.

Imagine a wet-cured ham worthy of our forefathers. It would be bountiful, bursting with flavor, the knife sliding through it, slicing it just thick enough to hold the sugary glaze. Instead, the refrigerator case confronts us with information printed in tiny letters on a vacuum-sealed package. Most of us have to pull out our “readers” to get the gist of it.

“Water added” means it is 10 percent water. “Ham and water” means up to 37 percent water. (How does one figure out the per-pound price of something that is 37 percent water?) Some of the hams are marbled or mottled. I suspect they were injected with the brine for 24 hours rather than given a long slow brining. My instinct is they also were injected with just enough smoke flavoring to leave a long-lasting harsh taste on the strings of the meat. Of course they are cheaper, the word that gives true meaning to “less expensive.”

There are cured hams that are just called “Ham,” meaning no extra water. But why don’t they brag if they were brined long and slow and then smoked with tender loving hands turning them? Why are hams different colors; some pale and wan, some rosy pink? The choices are dizzying. There is bone-in, bone-out, shank end, butt end, shank with center cut, butt end with center cut, cooked, partially cooked and more. The USDA requires all this labeling, and cooking instructions, in English. But I wonder whether the directions were written by someone who has actually cooked a ham? This is one time when price and reputation matter.

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