Cured or Uncured Ham: That is the Question
“Hamming” it Up this Spring
As you make plans for family meals this spring, don’t forget the ham! Always flavorful, juicy, and incredibly versatile, ham is great for brunch (served on biscuits, in omelets, or in quiche) casual lunches (in panini, or in sandwiches with an array of creamy cheese) or as the star of a formal dinner.
So what’s the secret to selecting the perfect ham? First, know the lingo.
Here are the basics:
- Uncured hams, often called fresh hams, aren’t cured or cooked prior to purchase. Before cooking, remove the skin and trim back the fat to a 1/4-inch layer, otherwise your ham will come out very greasy. Most uncured hams are baked, which ensures the meat cooks thoroughly. Bake the ham on top of a rack, placed in a roasting pan. This allows the excess fat to drip away from the meat. Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the ham prior to baking, then bake at 325°F until the internal temperature reaches 170°F. Most fresh hams take between 20 and 30 minutes to finish baking, but larger hams may take longer.
Cured Uncooked Ham
- Cured hams are either wet cured or dry cured. The curing process consists of either soaking in a brine solution or injecting the solution into the meat, and then drying it. Curing kills harmful bacteria, but the ham must still be cooked before it’s safe to eat. Bake the ham at 325 °F, until the internal temperature reads 160°F on the meat thermometer.
- Every region of the country seems to have their preferred version of cured ham, one favorite dry cured Ham of ours is Johnston County Hams from North Carolina.
Fully Cooked Cured Ham
- Full cooked hams don’t require cooking and can be served cold if you prefer. If you wish to warm the ham prior to serving, place it in a roasting pan and cover it with a loose tent of foil, as fully cooked hams are more prone to drying out. Bake at 325 °F for about 10 minutes per pound, or until the meat thermometer reads 140 °F.
Whichever type of ham you choose, be sure to cook it thoroughly. Consider using a glaze so the ham doesn’t dry out, and don’t be afraid to pair it with lots of other bold flavors. Refrigerate the leftovers promptly and start planning lots of great ways to use ham in soups, pastas, casseroles, breakfast foods, and sandwiches!
Do you have a favorite cured ham or glaze recipe? Let us know so we can check it out. Thank you!
Download our FREE Spring Ham Primer for more ideas for your ham celebration!
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