Easter Ham Preparation

Easter is at the end of this month and only 17 days away and while some may have bought their eggs and have already bought and EATEN some easter candy, many of you haven’t even thought about getting your easter ham never mind preparation of it. Well let me offer some tips with the help of Bruce Aidells, author of The Complete Meat Cookbook, and make your holiday a bit more tastier this Easter!

Planning:

  • When selecting a ham, figure on buying 1/4 to 1/3 pound per person if boneless, 1/3 to 1/2 pound per person if partially boned, and 3/4 to 1 pound per person if bone in hams.
  • If you shop for your ham early, you can store a ham unopened in the original packaging for 7-10 days. For longer storage you can freeze the ham in the original packaging for up to 3 months.

Varieties:

  • Fully cooked or ready-to-eat hams and be eaten with no further preparation. They are sold with or without the bone or partially boned. While the bone adds flavor during the cooking process, it can make carving it more difficult.
  • Fully cooked hams can be purchased in a variety of sizes.
  • A whole 10-20 pound bone in ham is the most flavorful and with the least wasteful cut. It can serve 15-20 people with leftovers (!) and the bone can be used as you would a ham hock, for seasoning soups and bean dishes.
  • For smaller groups buying a smaller section of ham is key. The butt-end, which is the upper part of the leg, tends to have more meat than the smaller shank end, which is lower on the leg.
  • Partially-cooked or ready-to-cook hams are made using traditional smoking and curing techniques and have been heated to at least 137 degrees during some part of the processing, and tend to have superior flavor and texture.
  • Fresh hams haven’t been cured or cooked. They must be cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees. These are sometimes found with alongside other pork roast, however you may need to special order them. Fresh hams tend to have a good fat to lean meat ratio, which creates an excellent moist texture and superior flavor.
  • Spiral-cut hams, which usually are fully cooked and available with or without the bone, have become increasingly popular, in part for their ease of serving. However these hams tend to dry out and are also coated with a sweet commercial glaze made with processed sweeteners. Even the simplest glaze of brown sugar and mustard would taste better on these hams.

Cooking:

  • Fully cooked hams can be eaten cold. If you plan to bake i, heat the oven to 325 degrees F and cook to an internal temperature of 140 degrees. Leftovers, or hams not in their original packaging, should be heated to 160 degrees.
  • A fully cooked whole ham with take 15-18 minutes per pound to come to temperature. A fully cooked half ham will need to cook for about 18-24 minutes per pound.
  • Partially cooked hams must be heated at 325 degrees to an internal temperature of 160 degrees. A 15-20 lb ham needs 18-20 minutes per pound. A 5-7 lb ham needs 20-25 minutes per pound.

In this coming week I will be posting more information on easter ham preparation and a variety of ways to cook ham and different glazes, so make sure to check my site daily to see new recipes! Thank you again to Bruce Aidells author of The Complete Meat Cookbook for all his wonderful tips! For more helpful tips on cooking, prepping, glazing, and recipes on all kinds of meat, check out his book at amazon.com.

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