Cooking a Proper Ham

Cooking an honest to God Ham

One of the banes of human existence is that  humans all too often use one word to describe two different things.  This is the sort of philosophical meandering that has driven people far smarter than I into a state of drooling in a fetal position.  So we are going to nip that in the bud and proceed to cooking a proper ham.  Most of what you think is ham isn’t, or at least it’s a very inferior sort.  If it is bubble gum pink and swimming in a slimy liquid, it’s a “city ham” or a “juice packed ham”(shudder). And those things are ok, but should the opportunity to get a proper dry aged ham arise, (Smithfield is the most famous American brand) stop at nothing to procure it. You know those nightmare scenes that happen every year on Black Friday- the ones where someone assaults or pepper sprays fellow shoppers to get the last  “My Mama loves me more than yours loves you” baby doll, or “Let’s kill everybody” video game? Those are shocking horrible instances of unacceptable behavior… but  such activity to get a Smithfield is totally understandable.. If you are going to jail it shouldn’t be over something stupid, people.    Follow the directions to the letter- most dry aged hams that you can get your hands on won’t need the soaking and scrubbing that our grandmother’s hams did.   Put it in a pot. Submerge it in liquid- i tend to use half chicken broth and ½ water. Allow it to barely simmer for 15 minutes a pound.  Skim off the gray nasty foam.    If time is on your side, allow it to cool in the liquid. If not, I absolve you.  Remove the ham and lay it on a roaster- you can score the rind, and add cloves, (although if you are going to do that go all the way serve it with broiled grapefruit a la’ Hazel and Jim’s wedding.) A glaze requires something sweet, brown sugar, maple syrup, something tangy, mustard is a favorite. Combine.  See how easy that was?  Spread it over your ham and slam it into the hottest oven you can muster for 15 minutes.  You will serve this in thin, salty sweet, pale pink ribbons.  The south knows its way around a swine… so biscuits are the perfect accompaniment.  It can also be the centerpiece of a charcuterie smorgasbord, to mix cultural dining patterns.  Serve on a board with appropriate slicing apparatus, tart pickles, cheeses, and crudité.  

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