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Posts Tagged ‘Easter’

Gastronomically yours,

March 29th, 2015

How to Ham it up!

A ham is the rear leg of a hog, which is preserved by a variety of combined methods

such as wet or dry salting, smoking and drying, it is one of the oldest cuts of cured meats produced by modern society

with almost every country in the world utilizing regionally inspired preparation methods.

The moveable feast of Easter will see many people consuming ham but there is much to consider when purchasing a ham.

Laterality is the individual orientation of preference to what side of one’s body we show a personal inclination for.

More simply are we left or right handed. Estimates indicate 85% of the animal kingdom

is right side dominant which includes our hands, eyes, ears and feet.

When purchasing a ham it should be acquired from the left hind leg of a pig as they tend to be right side dominant.

It has been observed that because of this lateral trait,

pigs scratch themselves more often with their right hind leg,

causing the muscles to work more resulting in a tougher ham with less fat.

A Picnic Ham is not a true ham as it is cut from the upper part of the foreleg and contains a portion of the shoulder,

but they are cured in the same manner as a proper ham, making it taste just like ham.

Traditionally hams are cured with salt and sugar to remove excess blood and moisture.

They are then rinsed and hung to dry and further age. Some find their way into a smoke house where

they are hung over a variety of smoldering hardwood coals to develop a rich flavour and naturally colour the hams exterior.

This process can take anywhere from 6 to 18 months.

In North America many boneless or shaped hams are simply processed bits of meat

that have been mechanically shaped and held together with processed ingredients that work as adhesives,

their added smoky flavour comes from flavoured liquid that is sprayed on or injected into these hams.

A bone-in ham can be purchased whole or halved from either the shank (foot) end, or from the butt (hip) end.

Whole hams will weigh at an average of 12-14 lbs. To decide on how much ham you need to feed your guests,

I suggest 1/2 pound of bone-in ham per guest which allows everyone to have plenty to eat,

with enough left over for sandwiches and the ham bone will be in the soup pot for a hearty Split Pea Soup.

When it comes to preparing the ham you will need to remove the ham from the refrigerator

and let it come to room temperature for one hour before heating it in the oven.

If and only if you are using a salt cured ham boil it for 15-20 minutes in a pot of water

before heating it in the oven to remove the excess salt. Discard water

Don’t be a cheap bastard and save the water for soup because it will taste like shit!

When heating a fully cooked ham we must keep it moist as you want it heated through but do not want to

dry it out so place the ham on a roasting rack, add half an inch of water to the bottom of the pan and

over the pan tightly with aluminum foil and cook at 350°F for 15 minutes per pound or until the internal temperature of the ham reaches 165°F.

To glaze your ham, simply raise the temperature of your oven to 400°F for the last 15-20 minutes of

cooking and liberally brush your ham with a glaze of anything sweet a couple of times.

Once the ham is cooked, let it rest for 15 minutes before you carve it to minimize moisture loss.

 

Chef Brian Henry offers Pig Roasts and other whole animal Roasting

Chef Brian Henry offers Pig Roasts and other whole animal Roasting

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