Cooking the Perfect Easter Ham
Ham has been an Easter tradition for as long as we can remember. And out of all Holiday dishes, ham is probably the easiest to prepare. It takes almost zero labor, but for those of you who are still unsure or want to spice it up a little bit, here’s our take on how to cook the perfect Easter ham.
So all you are really trying to do is heat it up. If you aren’t sure if your ham has been fully cooked, read the label or simply just ask! All of our hams at Chico Locker are indeed fully cooked and could be eaten cold if you preferred. We only offer one type of cure at Chico Locker. It’s our House Maple Sugar Cure which has been perfected to be not too salty but at the same time not too sweet. Our hams have been recognized at the national level (American Association of Meat Processors) bringing home Grand Champion awards in both bone-in ham and boneless ham categories. Many other places may offer varieties in their curing anywhere from hickory smoked ham to a glazed ham. Just make sure you aren’t purchasing a country ham. A country ham is a ham that has been cured for a number of months and is usually very high in salt meant to be used sparingly.
So what kind of hams are there? Well there are bone-in hams and boneless hams. A bone-in ham is a traditional ham with the leg bone still in it. (Pictured above) These hams can weigh anywhere from 15-20+ lbs. as a whole or they can be cut in half. The important thing when purchasing a half of a bone-in ham is which half you want. The one end is called the shank end and has the ham hock attached. The shank end contains a little less meat and more bone which is great for anyone who wants to make soup or a pot of beans afterward from their ham bone & hock. If you want a little more meat and less bone, the butt end of the ham is perfect for that.
If you don’t feel like messing with a bone at all than a boneless ham is the best choice for you. (Pictured Left) A boneless ham is a leg of a hog that is boned, cured, and then put back together (by the help of a net) and smoked. A boneless ham is usually a little more lean than a traditional boneless ham because any fat from the interior of the leg has been removed as well as some of the surface fat. The ham is cured, smoked, & can be cooked the exact same way as a bone-in ham. Boneless hams can also be pressed more flat than round for things like sandwich meat.
As mentioned above, since MOST hams are fully cooked all you are really needing to do when you cook the ham is heat it up. The easiest way to do this is in an oven. We recommend putting it in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes per pound COVERED or until your ham reaches an internal temperature of 140 degrees. It’s very important to make sure you COVER your ham because otherwise, it can dry out. There are many different ways to spice up your ham but our favorite method involves using pineapple which not only pairs perfectly with the flavor; the sugars give the ham a nice glaze over the top. We also recommend putting either a can of pineapple and its juices (crushed, rings, or diced) plus a little water OR just a little bit of water in the bottom of the pan to keep your ham moist while it cooks.
Don’t feel like heating the house up…? The new trend in cooking both ham during Easter and turkey during Thanksgiving has been to use your grill! Just be sure you are using indirect heat to warm the ham through as well as taking the steps to make sure your ham is covered as well as has some liquid to ensure your ham doesn’t dry out on the grill. Depending on what kind of grill and what type of fuel it uses (pellets, charcoal, gas) will depend on how long it takes to heat your ham. A good rule of thumb to follow is the same one as above. Basically whatever method you choose to cook your ham, remember low and slow. Since most hams have sugar-based cures cranking up the heat on them will cause the sugar to burn and leave you with a burnt ham!
Some other things you can do to spice up your ham is make little tick marks in your ham with a knife and push whole cloves in it before you put it into the oven. Or if you feel like getting even more fancy I found these recipes:
However you decide to cook your ham this Easter, we hope that this tutorial shines some light on the subject. From all of us at Chico Locker & Sausage Co., have a safe and happy Easter!