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Best Christmas Ham - Country-cured and smoked Ham

Updated on January 17, 2012
Country-cured smoked ham
Country-cured smoked ham

How can we have Christmas without ham?

Unthinkable!

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.

curing and aging
curing and aging
Man checks hams in drying room
Man checks hams in drying room

Country-Cured Ham

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



Click thumbnail to view full-size
one country-cured hamwaterclovesbrown sugarbread crumbs
one country-cured ham
one country-cured ham
water
water
cloves
cloves
brown sugar
brown sugar
bread crumbs
bread crumbs

Ingredients needed:

1 country-cured ham

Water

Cloves

Brown sugar

Bread crumbs




Preparation:

  • 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 hams

Click thumbnail to view full-size



Bon Appetit!!!


Merry Christmas Everyone!!!


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Comments

Submit a Comment

  • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

    Susan Hazelton 

    7 years ago from Sunny Florida

    That ham looks so good, you can almost taste it. Thank you for sharing your story, it was a nice memory.

  • Rosie2010 profile imageAUTHOR

    Rosie Rose 

    7 years ago from Toronto, Canada

    Hiya WillStarr, I just finished reading your story about Sam.. you are so talented! Great story!

    Merry Christmas,

    Rosie

  • Rosie2010 profile imageAUTHOR

    Rosie Rose 

    7 years ago from Toronto, Canada

    Hiya WillStarr, thanks for dropping by. I'm glad this hub brought back some wonderful memories of your living in Kentucky. I think country cured hams are the best.. I just can't get used to the other hams although I buy stake hams and fry them with a little dribble of honey and some pineapple bits. I'm glad to hear that you cook country hams the same way.

    Merry Christmas,

    Rosie

  • WillStarr profile image

    WillStarr 

    7 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

    This brings back wonderful memories of the years I spent in Kentucky. I learned to cook country hams almost exactly as you described, and yes, they were delicious.

    Country hams can be ordered online, and they need no refrigeration. Just follow Rosie's instructions and you can't miss!

  • Rosie2010 profile imageAUTHOR

    Rosie Rose 

    7 years ago from Toronto, Canada

    Hiya Carrie, thanks for dropping by. I hope you try this country-cured ham for Christmas.

    Have a nice day!

    Rosie

  • carrie450 profile image

    carrie450 

    7 years ago from Winnipeg, Canada

    Sounds delicious Rosie. thanks

  • Rosie2010 profile imageAUTHOR

    Rosie Rose 

    7 years ago from Toronto, Canada

    Hiya Avamum, thanks for dropping by. Yes my dad's specialty was Spanish dishes and we couldn't go to the kitchen when he was cooking. So I never learned how to cook.. well I cook now, but not as good as my other sisters.

    Merry Christmas!

    Rosie

  • Avamum profile image

    Sarita Harbour 

    7 years ago from Yellowknife, Canada

    yum YUM - looks great! How nice to hear of another family where the dad did the cooking, lol!

  • Rosie2010 profile imageAUTHOR

    Rosie Rose 

    7 years ago from Toronto, Canada

    Hiya RedElf, thanks for dropping by. I'm sure it was since for a kid 30 minutes seems to be a lifetime. lol

    Merry Christmas!

    Rosie

  • RedElf profile image

    RedElf 

    7 years ago from Canada

    Well, it must have seemed like a long process when you were a kid, but I remember watching my Mom go through a similar, lengthy process with her hams as well. Thanks for this walk down memory lane.

  • Rosie2010 profile imageAUTHOR

    Rosie Rose 

    7 years ago from Toronto, Canada

    Hiya hotfingers, thanks for dropping by. So you're from Virginia? I've heard the Smithfield smoked hams are the best! I'm glad you enjoyed my Christmas ham hub.

    Merry Christmas!

    Rosie

  • Rosie2010 profile imageAUTHOR

    Rosie Rose 

    7 years ago from Toronto, Canada

    Hiya Craan, Thanks for dropping by. lol Me too, looking at those yummy pictures makes me hungry. Yes, cooking this country-cured hams is time-consuming, but it's all worth it.

    Merry Christmas!

    Rosie

  • 6hotfingers3 profile image

    6hotfingers3 

    7 years ago

    Wow! Your hub makes me long to go back to Virginia. We often had the Smithfiled smoked ham for the holidays. Thanks for the memories. Great Hub!!!

  • Craan profile image

    Sheila Craan 

    7 years ago from Florida

    A Christmas ham sounds inviting! Your recipe is well worth the preparation time for a special ham that adds a special flair to a blessed Christmas dinner. I feel hungry by just looking at your wonderful ham photo...

  • Rosie2010 profile imageAUTHOR

    Rosie Rose 

    7 years ago from Toronto, Canada

    Hi Princessa, thanks for dropping by. Cooking country-cured hams is time-consuming but it's all worth it.

    Merry Christmas!

    Rosie

  • Princessa profile image

    Wendy Iturrizaga 

    7 years ago from France

    It looks so delicious...

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