Sunday, April 1, 2012

Hams, Hams Everywhere

Welcome to my adventure in Ham Land. I have decided to take on the challenge of helping you to decide what type of ham to cook for Easter. A few years ago I thought that a ham was a ham - all pink and precooked. Little did I know that I would soon be thrust into the world of meats. A tiny part of me is even a qualified butcher. I worked along side our butcher Rocky (he has been cutting meat for about 50 years) for about a year and a half and sometimes have to fill in here and there. So I have learned a thing or two about meat or about the different cuts of meat, should I say. I am getting off subject, back to the hams.

A ham is actually the pigs butt and back leg. There is a shank side and a butt side to every ham, and hams are HUGE. Sometimes one whole ham can weigh up to 25 lbs depending on the size of the pig. The hams we are all used to are the smoked hams - precooked, pink, some are spiral cut. I am slightly bias but I do feel that our Old Fashioned Smoked Hams are the best on the market. Maybe its the smoking process or maybe it's the way we raise our pigs - the good old fashioned way, either way it's one of my favorites.
 A few years ago however we found several of our customers where asking about a FRESH ham, not as in 'not frozen' but as in 'not smoked.' I have heard of so many people cooking this special type of ham so I decided to try it out myself. I found a great recipe, modified it to my liking and stuck it in brine to begin this new, FRESH adventure. I found out fresh hams are delicious, but they do NOT taste like a ham. When I bit into my super moist fresh ham I didn't experience any smoked flavor what so ever. It was just like biting into a yummy pork roast - granted I even made this great sauce out of the apple cider drippings and I loved every bite, but something was missing for me.

I found out that when I want HAM, I want an Old Fashioned Smoked Ham. But if I want to sweep my family members off their feet with something new I will cook a Fresh Ham. Both are wonderful in their very own unique way.

 I cooked this ham in my oven, but since it didn't fit in my dutch oven very well I used the inside part of my crock pot. You could even use a 9x13 cake pan if necessary.

 I put about 2" of water in the bottom.
 Covered it tightly with tinfoil and placed in the oven at 350 degrees. I have a convection oven that automatically changed the temperature to 325 degrees. I let it cook for about 3 hours and then checked on it. It looked good, heated all the way through and I could have easily taken it out and sliced it for dinner. But I waited because something special happens when you wait.
 Back into the oven it went for another 3 hours, covered back up tightly with tinfoil. When I took it out this time the meat was literally falling off the bone. I could stick my fork into the extremely juicy ham and it was just falling apart - delicious.
Here it is on my plate and my favorite way to eat it.

APPLE CIDER FRESH HAM coming tomorrow.