Best Christmas Ham - Country-cured and smoked Ham
How can we have Christmas without ham?
When I was a kid, in my house my father was the cook. One of the things we look forward to at Christmas dinner was his special ham. It took him two days to prepare his ham, which as a kid I thought was a total waste of time... but the result was well-worth it. We always had the most delicious ham in the whole neighbourhood.
My father would go out of his way to get a country-cured ham. For him nothing else would do when it comes to ham. As a kid, I thought we couldn't afford a regular ham, because why else would my father buy a ham that was so old it was moldy in some parts. We were not wealthy, but we were certainly not that poor! Well, what did I know, I was just a kid.
Now that I'm older and hopefully wiser, I really appreciate all the efforts my father put in in preparing, not only the most delicious ham in our neighbourhood, if not the world, but also the most beautiful ham with so much sweet memories of my childhood.
Country-cured hams are very special kind of ham. Hogs are usually given special diets like nuts and fruits to produce a more flavorful and tender meat. They must be cured, aged and dried at least 70 days. They are usually dry-cured in salt, then smoked over fragrant hardwoods and aged at least six months. The meat may be drier, depending on the length of aging. A mold will most likely form, which is simply scraped and washed away.
Country-cured ham is also known as country-style ham. These are also called "old hams" in Kentucky. Most country-cured hams are uncooked and need to be cooked using a special process.
Cooking your Christmas Country-cured Ham
If you are planning to cook country-cured ham this Christmas, you have to plan ahead. You need at least a day of preparation.
Here's an approximate timetable:
Prep Time: at lease 24 hours
Cook Time: 25 to 30 minutes per pound
Total Time: approximately 28 hours
1 country-cured ham
Unwrap ham and place it in a large pot. An oblong pot is ideal if you have one. If it is necessary to fit the ham in your pot, carefully saw off the hock, but for decorative purposes, it would be nice to leave the hock intact. Allow to soak in cool water at room temperature for at least 24 hours, changing the water 3 or four times turning the ham each time.
- The next day, scrub well under running tepid water to remove any mold and pepper. Place ham in the same large pot, add cool water to cover the ham and put the lid on. Bring to a boil over high heat and then adjust heat to low for slow simmer and cook 25 to 30 minutes per pound or until fork tender and bone feels loose; cool ham in cooking liquid.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Remove the ham from liquid, peel off rind, and trim fat to at least one-half inch. With a sharp knife, cut the fat in crisscross pattern and stud with cloves. Mix together brown sugar and bread crumbs and pat on a thick glaze all over the ham.
- Place ham in a large disposable turkey-roasting pan glaze side up and bake, uncovered, 45 minutes or until glaze is nicely browned.
- Transfer ham to serving platter and let cool at least 20 minutes before serving.
Here are some beautifully decorated cooked country-cured hamsClick thumbnail to view full-size
Merry Christmas Everyone!!!
Did you know? by Rosie2010
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