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All varieties of cured ham are either boneless or bone-in. Bone-in hams are traditionally considered more attractive and boneless are considered easier to serve because of simplified carving. Bone-in hams are available in a variety of shapes – whole or as a shank or butt half. Boneless hams also are available in a variety of sizes.
Most hams are fully cooked, as noted on the label. Cooked hams can be served cold or after warming in the oven. Uncooked hams should be heated to an internal temperature of 145 ° F, followed by a 3-minute rest time.
A specialty of the southern U.S., old-fashioned, country-style or Southern-style ham is dry cured and contains no added water. It is extremely salty and usually served in small portions, very thinly sliced.
Different types of cured Hams:
Cured ham is leg meat that has been dry- or wet-cured. Hams are labeled according to the amount of water added to the ham during the curing process. Because the leg muscle is a well-exercised part of the hog, ham is surprisingly low in fat.
Hams are dry-cured by rubbing salt and spices into the meat’s surface. Wet-curing involves a brine solution that contains water, salt, sugar and spices. Dry-cured hams are known as ‘country-style.’ Wet cured hams are most common.
Wet-cured hams are most commonly available in three varieties. Ham with natural juices is a favorite for a dinner centerpiece. This type of ham has had little water added during the curing process. Its velvety texture and attractive appearance make it an ideal choice for holiday meals. Ham with water added retains more water during the curing process than ham with natural juices. This type of ham is ideal for steaks, thin-slicing and shaving. Ham and water product is a common type of ham, most often found at the deli counter. This type of ham has the most water added of all the ham varieties. It is a great choice for ham that’s intended to be served cold.
Fresh ham, is the uncured hind leg of the hog. Like cured ham, fresh leg of pork/fresh ham is available either bone-in or boneless and may be purchased whole or halved. Fresh ham also may be cut into rump (from near the sirloin), shank (lower leg portion) or center portions. The whole bone-in leg weighs between 15 and 25 pounds and includes the shank and leg bones. Boneless pork leg is often rolled and tied with twine by the butcher. If you don’t see it at the supermarket, the butcher, with about a week’s notice, can order a fresh leg of pork.
Meat Counter Tips
Leftover ham is a delicious way to add instant flavor to lots of standby dishes.
When serving a bone-in ham, plan on two to three servings per pound. Arrange the ham slices, separate from the bone, on a serving platter.
Popular Cooking Methods
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Ham basics, meat counter tips and popular cooking methods are sourced from
The National Pork Board