Ham used to be kind of a mystery to me. Most Hams you find in grocer’s cases come fully cooked — you only need to glaze, if desired, then reheat. Selling an already cooked item most people bake anyway was a curious phenomenon.
Plus, there are a wide variety of types and cuts of Ham to choose with terminology that adds intrigue: Country Ham, City Ham, fresh Ham, cured, cottage Ham, spiral cut . What does it all mean? In the interest of clearing up any confusion, we offer this guide for choosing the best Holiday Ham for your table, along with the best recipes for the two primary Ham types.
With his knack for explaining culinary matters, TV cook Alton Brown has the best definition of ham styles: “A city ham is basically any brined ham that’s packed in a plastic bag, held in a refrigerated case and marked ‘ready to cook’, “partially cooked” or ‘ready to serve’. Better city hams are also labeled ‘ham in natural juices’ ”
These references will help sort out the other terminology:
- Ham 101 with a gThankYou! to What’s Cooking America.
- gThankYou! for About.com’s Ham Varieties and Terminology, which provides a comprehensive overview.
- How to Choose a Ham with a gThankYou! to the “ask me” experts at Mahalo.com.
- Country Ham recipe, which includes the odd ingredient Dr. Pepper, with a gThankYou! to Alton Brown and Food Network.
- Finally, gThankYou! again to AB, who also has a fantastic recipe for City Ham.
Knowing more about Ham and the difference in varieties lets you be in control of the cooking, or reheating, whichever you choose!
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