A ham is cut from the hind leg of a pig above the hock joint.
Hams are sold already cured and/or smoked and these days most come
fully cooked, and just need to be heated.
A bone-in ham is ideal for roasting; boneless hams, which come
in all sizes, are less flavourful and have an inferior texture
because they have been boned-out and reshaped. These boneless hams
are best sliced for sandwich meat. Although fresh hams (raw and
neither cured nor smoked) are less common, they also make
magnificent roasts for big gatherings.
Even though most hams are sold fully cooked, they still need to
kept under full refrigeration and then cooked to an internal
temperature of 140 F. An instant-read thermometer (digital is best)
makes quick work of determining when the ham is fully heated
through, and it’s one of the most valuable kitchen gadgets you can
buy (and not too expensive).
Roasting provides the opportunity to add layers of flavour, and
ham matches well with all kinds of different ingredients, from
sweet sauces based on brown sugar or fruit to spicy tastes like
mustard, garlic and curry.
Choose a ham with the bone in for best flavour. A 12- to 15-lb
bone-in ham feeds about 8 people. For a simple roast, place the ham
in a shallow roasting pan and cover with foil; bake at 325 F for
about 10 minutes per pound, or until the internal temperature
reaches 140 F. Next remove the foil, increase the oven heat to 425
F. Cut a crisscross pattern into the fat and brush the ham with any
flavourful glaze — Dijon mustard and brown sugar is simple and
delicious. Roast 20 minutes or until golden, then remove from oven
and let the ham rest at least 20 minutes before carving. Carve
thinly. Ham is equally delicious served hot, warm or chilled.
Almost all vegetables pair well with ham, but scalloped
potatoes, mashed turnips and Brussels sprouts make particularly
good accompaniments. Leftover ham should be refrigerated, and has
endless tasty uses, from sandwiches to souffles.
Try it today: