A Real Hankerin’
Every once in a while, I get a hankerin’ (it’s the way my people used to talk) for a taste of a good ol’ bone-in country ham – the kind that my grandmother used to make on Easter. If you’ve ever tasted one, the taste was unforgettable.
The Kiss Principle Applies Here
My advice is to keep it simple. Something happens to many of the commercial types. They are most likely soaked in brine and injected with who knows what resulting in an odd, artificially sweet taste. Even the appearance seems wrong. The mahogany-lacquered look and the spiral cut seems to make the ham seem a bit too slick and citified.
To my tastes, a ham should taste like ham. I prefer my ham to have a savory-robust hammy flavor that meat gets that’s cooked close to the bone. The bone in this case is the pig’s thigh or “aitch” bone.
A whole leg of pork can be divided into two parts: the butt and the shank. The butt end is usually leaner and more tender, while the shank end’s meat is a bit tougher but has more flavor. I also don’t like the spiral cut. I think the meat dries out faster, and I prefer to control the size of the slices.
At The Table
A holiday ham has the same presence at the table as a turkey or a prime rib roast. A ceremonial carving should take place making it a festive meat. Each slice is placed on the plate along with plain or creamed peas, sweet or scalloped potatoes, perhaps a side of spiced apples, deviled eggs, and Parker House rolls. Pair it with a wine with a bit of sweetness such as Riesling, rose’, Grenache, or a chenin blanc, and it’s good eats ahead.
And a ham is also like a turkey, in that the left-overs are wonderful. We cut it into slices or cube the pieces. And we take all of the scraps and bones and add them to soups and sides. For days we enjoy ham sandwiches, ham and eggs, ham and beans, and the list goes on.
A Thing For Pigs
Being a farm boy, and being involved with raising pigs, I often watched my father walk among them and selected the one for our use. The ham is from the upper part of the back leg, so basically the pig that was the most muscled in this area was the one that was selected. As a result I spent some time in the hog yard checking out haunches. This may explain why I’ve always had a thing for Kermit’s girlfriend, Miss Piggy.
Ham Bone-in Shank
9-10 lb.Ham fully-cooked bone-in shank
2 TbspCloves (optional)
2 CupsApple Cider
1/2 CupApple jelly
1/2 CupMaple syrup
1/4 CupMustard whole-grain
Remove the ham from the refrigerator and bring to room temperature, about 30 minutes.
Time: 15 Minutes
Trim off any skin from the ham. Use a sharp paring knife to score through the fat in a diagonal crosshatch pattern without cutting through to the meat. Insert the cloves into the ham (if using), placing them at the intersections of the cuts.
Put the ham, flat-side down, on a rack in a roasting pan.
Time: 3 Hours 15 Minutes
Pour 1/4 inch water into the bottom of the pan. Transfer to the oven and roast until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the ham registers 130 degrees F, about 2 hours, 30 minutes (about 15 minutes per pound).
Note: It’s a good idea to watch this from time to time so that the outside doesn’t become too charred. You want just a bit of black char, but not too much. If you think this is happening, cover the ham with aluminum foil.
As the ham is cooking, you can make the glaze.
Boil 2 cups apple cider in a saucepan over medium-high heat until reduced to 1/2 cup, 8 to 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to low; add 1/2 cup each apple jelly and maple syrup, 1/4 cup whole-grain mustard, 1/2 teaspoon allspice and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg.
After the ham has been in the oven for 2 1/2 hours, increase the oven temperature to 425 degrees F. Pour glaze over the ham and brush to coat. If the water in the bottom of the pan has evaporated, add more. Return the ham to the oven and roast, basting every 10 minutes with the remaining Glaze, until glossy and well browned, about 45 more minutes.
Remove the ham from the rack and transfer to a carving board. Lt rest for about 15-20 minutes.
You are now ready to carve your ham. Rather than explain how I do this, I am going to refer you to betterbooktv to view a wonderful video and the proper technique.
After the ham is sliced, be sure to save the ham bone for adding to your favorite recipe for split pea soup or a big pot of beans. Chop the leftover ham and stir it into the soup or beans, too.