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You ARE My Country Ham Doctor!
May 19, 2014 5:26 AM   Subscribe

We have two delicious 17 lb. direct-from-the-farm country hams to do up for our wedding in June, and are seeking advice on best ways to prepare them. Hams are frozen, cured, with hocks already taken out, and with the rind left on. Suggestions? Tips? Tricks? Glazing options?
posted by Lipstick Thespian to Food & Drink (16 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
Alton Brown is the man. The episode is "Ham I am" and it covers the ham and country ham very well. Here is the the recipe: Country Ham However, there is dissent and discussion about country ham approaches on Chowhound. Your vendor should have a recipe or two for their product.
posted by jadepearl at 5:50 AM on May 19 [1 favorite]


You also need to know if its already been cooked by the producer. The fact they are frozen suggests that might be the case. Otherwise there are more steps involved.
posted by JPD at 6:11 AM on May 19


Hams are uncooked - sorry.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 6:13 AM on May 19


Can I ask why they are frozen then? You don't need to freeze a country ham.

I only ask because it matters - the process for a city cured ham or a cooked country ham is quite different (and easier)
posted by JPD at 6:16 AM on May 19


Pigs butchered in March and afterwards were frozen and we will pick them up at the farm they were raised on.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 6:32 AM on May 19


I'm really not trying to be difficult. I don't think these are actual dry-cured and smoke country hams that would require soaking and simmering. A pig butchered in March wouldn't be ready in May.

But that makes life easier. You essentially have two choices - simmering in a pot of water or steaming it in a roasting pan filled with water. Then glaze and brown.

This Serious Eats article is pretty good. I'd note though that if your hams are cured, not cooked (and not dry-cured and smoked) you need to get the meat warmer than the 130 suggested here. USDA says 145. I'd probably go to 140 personally. Although if there is lots of marbling and its a mixed crowd of people maybe 145 is the way to go.
posted by JPD at 7:04 AM on May 19 [1 favorite]


This question is lacking details. ..

Are they smoked?
Are they dry cured?

This makes a big difference how you'd deal with them.
posted by Kruger5 at 7:27 AM on May 19


I think the confusion here is that "country ham" refers to a ham (the ham part of the pig) that has been cured in a specific way, and it sounds like you're talking about uncured frozen pig meat? If so don't know if it's possible to turn them into country hams by June - that usually takes at least a month or two.

It sounds like what you have is fresh hams, not country hams. Is that correct? (Still delicious!)
posted by mskyle at 8:28 AM on May 19 [1 favorite]


Ah, to clarify: the hams come from a farm where they've been smoked, cured, de-hocked and refrigerated since the "hamming" of the pig took place. All that's left is to pick them up - they've been de-everything'ed except for the rind, which remains in place.

They just need to be cooked. Hence the thread. I am a novice cook, ham buyer, and ham describer. These hams are about as country ham as you can get - straight off the farm, fresh as can be and in ham shape.

I...I can say no more about these wonderful hams.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 9:23 AM on May 19


What color is the flesh in the Hams?
posted by JPD at 9:45 AM on May 19


Even with the information you've provided, it's still not really clear what type of hams you have. A Country Ham is salt cured and aged, and therefore does not need to be refrigerated or frozen. This is the definition of Country Ham. If it it not shelf stable, you don't have yourself what is called a Country Ham, you might have a ham from the country(side) that may very well still be fantastic, but you're not going to want to use that nomenclature in figuring out how to cook it up, and unfortunately, in this case, it totally matters.

Hit up that Alton Brown episode. He'll steer you right. He'll also help you figure out exactly what you have, and exactly how to prepare it. The episode linked above is really good at demystifying what is going on in the ham arena. You won't be disappointed with his recipes either.
posted by furnace.heart at 9:51 AM on May 19


I love this thread and you hamheads.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 10:24 AM on May 19 [1 favorite]


To at last clarify: these are definitely country hams. Not city hams. We're talking hung up in sacks and etc.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 12:54 PM on May 19


Hi, this is Lipstick Thespian's partner. These are country hams. They are smoked and they are cured. It is not a Virginia type cure, hung up for a year &c.,but they are sugar cured in a wet process that takes a shorter amount of time. That's why they are frozen. They aren't cooked. They are not fresh hams - so we really don't need to worry that what we have isn't a cured ham. We're looking for advice and good glazes for cooking a cured ham.

The Alton Brown episode and the Chowhound thread, in particular, give a very good idea of what we'd need to do. The ham, like any country ham, needs to be cooked - simmered on the stovetop or baked, or simmered then baked with a score and a glaze. What we're really interested in is best advice for handling a ham that you are going to need to cook in one of those ways.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 4:32 PM on May 19


I can only offer a glaze suggestion, if that'll help:

Brown sugar, butter, finely minced garlic, mustard (fancy or not, your call), and spiced rum (like, say, Captain Morgan's), and lots of black pepper. Simmer together til you have a paste. Go to town.
posted by Ghidorah at 6:28 AM on May 20


I'm partial to whole grain mustard and light brown sugar. Black Pepper Keep it simple. Maybe a little ground ginger and clove.
posted by JPD at 1:25 PM on May 20


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