Country ham is a beloved delicacy cherished for its rich, smoky flavor and tender texture. Cooking this southern classic can be a bit daunting, but fear not! In this article, I will instruct you on how to cook a country ham properly.
1. Is Country Ham Fully Cooked?
No, country ham is not fully cooked. Country ham is a type of ham that has been dry-cured with salt and other seasonings for an extended period, typically several months or even up to a year. This curing process helps preserve the ham and gives it its characteristic salty and intense flavor.
Because country ham is not fully cooked during the curing process, it must be cooked before it is safe to eat. Most country hams available for purchase are labeled as “uncooked” or “partially cooked,” indicating that they require further cooking to reach a internal temperature is 145°F (63°C) to ensure that it is safe to eat.
2. How To Cook a Country Ham
- 1 Uncooked country ham (size based on your needs and number of servings)
- Glaze (choose your preferred glaze recipe)
- Large stockpot or pot with a lid
- Baking dish
- Meat thermometer
Step 1: Preparing the Uncooked Country Ham
Start by selecting a high-quality uncooked country ham. Look for hams that have a good amount of fat and marbling for added tenderness and flavor.
Rinse the ham thoroughly under cold running water to remove any excess salt. Pat it dry with paper towels.
Step 2: Boiling the Uncooked Country Ham
In a large stockpot or pot, add enough water to fully submerge the uncooked country ham. The water should be enough to cover the ham completely.
Optional: Add aromatic ingredients such as bay leaves, peppercorns, cloves, onions, carrots, and celery to the boiling water to enhance the flavor of the ham.
Bring the water to a gentle boil over medium heat, then reduce the heat to low and cover the pot with a lid. Allow the ham to simmer for approximately 20-25 minutes per pound. For instance, a 10-pound ham would take around 3.5 to 4 hours to cook.
Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the ham. It should reach at least 145°F (63°C) to ensure it’s safe to eat.
Step 3: Preparing the Glaze
While the ham is boiling, prepare your glaze by combining your chosen ingredients. Popular glazes often include brown sugar, Dijon mustard, maple syrup, and other spices to create a sweet and savory profile.
Mix the glaze ingredients until well combined and set it aside until the ham is ready for baking.
Step 4: Baking with Glaze in the Oven
Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C).
Once the ham is fully cooked through the boil method, remove it from the pot and transfer it to a baking dish.
Brush a generous amount of the glaze over the surface of the ham, ensuring it is evenly coated.
Place the ham in the preheated oven and bake for an additional 30-45 minutes. Baking with the glaze will allow it to caramelize and create a beautiful glossy finish.
Keep an eye on the ham during baking, and if the glaze starts to darken too quickly, cover it loosely with aluminum foil to prevent burning.
Step 5: Carving and Serving
Once the glaze has caramelized and the ham is nicely browned, remove it from the oven.
Let the ham rest for about 15-20 minutes before carving to allow the juices to redistribute, resulting in a moist and flavorful ham.
Carve the ham into thin slices and serve it alongside your favorite side dishes.
3. What To Serve With Glazed Country Ham Slices
Sweet Potatoes or Sweet Potato Casserole: The natural sweetness of sweet potatoes complements the glazed country ham beautifully. You can serve them simply roasted or as a luscious casserole with marshmallow or pecan toppings.
Green Beans Almondine: Tender green beans sautéed with butter and toasted almonds add a nutty and flavorful side that balances the sweetness of the glazed ham.
Scalloped Potatoes: Creamy, cheesy scalloped potatoes make for a comforting and hearty accompaniment to the glazed country ham.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts: Roasting Brussels sprouts with a touch of olive oil, garlic, and balsamic glaze adds a savory and tangy twist to the meal.
Biscuits or Rolls: Soft and fluffy biscuits or rolls are perfect for soaking up the delicious glaze and enjoying every bit of the country ham.
Coleslaw: A refreshing and crunchy coleslaw with a tangy dressing provides a nice balance to the richness of the glazed country ham.
Spinach Salad: A light spinach salad with strawberries, feta cheese, and balsamic vinaigrette adds freshness and brightness to the meal.
Corn Pudding: A creamy and slightly sweet corn pudding is a comforting and delicious side dish that complements the flavors of the glazed ham.
Cheesy Grits: Creamy and cheesy grits provide a flavorful and satisfying side to enjoy with the glazed country ham.
By following the step-by-step instructions outlined in this article, I belive that you can confidently cook a uncooked country ham perfectly. With a delectable glaze caramelized to perfection, this country ham will surely be a crowd-pleaser at your next gathering or holiday feast.