Tuesday, March 25, 2014


In light of recent events, well sales really, I have been asked to update and add more pictures to this post from last year, so here goes. 

HAM!!!!  I love HAM!!!  In my head, okay, out loud really, I sing Ham-a-lam-a-ding-dong!!  every time anyone says ham.  I love ham more than anyone I know.  I'm going to go out on a limb and say I love ham more than everyone you know too.  It's sooooo yummy; I can't understand people that don't love ham.  I think the people that don't like ham, haven't had good ham.  I did a quick search and all the recipes I found call for cooking the ham for 3 to 4 hours.  Unless you have a 20 pound ham, there is no way you should ever cook your ham for 3 or 4 hours.  Well, if you're really trying to make ham jerky, they by all means, cook away.  Hmmm.......ham jerky?  That sounds interesting.  I do have a dehydrator......Sorry, I digress; back to it.  

Ham is SUPER easy to make and then it's a show stopper.  The house smells wonderful and you look like a rock star when you pull it out of the oven.  I have to say that I learned this from my dad.  He makes super tasty ham and keeps me in frozen stock should I run out at all time.  THANKS, DADDY!!  I still have to call him every time I make it just to be sure I didn't forget anything.  Pick out a good sized ham for your family.  It's just me and my husband at our house right now and we like to eat leftovers for lunch.  I get an 8-10 lb ham when they go on sale (I'm a cheapskate.)  That's enough for our dinner and lunch as well as a nice big meaty bone chunk for ham and beans and a good sized chunk to slice and freeze for breakfast sandwiches. 

If your grocery store has a ridiculous sale ($0.68 per pound!!!) like ours did the other day, call all of your friends and family and hook them up too because you're nice like that.  Just know that by the time you are done, you may look like a ham drug dealer with all of those beauties  in the trunk of your car (yup, that's  really 17.)    

I prefer the shank end, that's the pointy one, but if you're all about that bass, go for the butt.  Get whichever end you want; both are delicious.  DO NOT, under any circumstances, get a precut or spiral cut ham.  You will never be able to get moist ham if it has already been sliced.  Now, if someone gave you a spiral cut ham for Christmas, that was nice.  Never look a gift ham in the mouth.  Slice it off the bone and freeze it for sandwiches or reheat the slices in stock.  It's about the best you can do.         

Ok, you brought home a ham, now what?  Check your oven racks and adjust to make room for your ham BEFORE you preheat it to 350-375 degrees.  For planning purposes, figure about 12 minutes per pound.  It will need to rest for about 15 minutes after baking.  Unwrap your ham and take that little plastic thingie off the bone end.  Place it in a baking pan/dish, NOT a cookie sheet; you will have a giant mess in your oven, I learned. 

 Be sure the fattiest side it facing up.  It will baste the rest as it cooks.  Score the whole thing in a grid pattern about 1/2 inch deep.  If you want to be fancy, cut it in a diamond pattern so it looks pretty later.  Don't sweat it too much, you just want to give the oh-so-tasty fat a way to come out and make some yummy gravy. 

 What?  You've never heard of ham gravy??? Oh my!  It's the most wonderful concoction that you will ever taste.  Once you've had ham gravy, you may throw the ham away and just get a big bowl and spoon to eat gravy.  It is life changing!!

Get out some yellow mustard (no need for the fancy stuff) and brown sugar.  Squirt mustard all over the ham like you would a corn dog, then pat brown sugar onto the mustard.  You can premix it all in a bowl first if you want, but this is how Daddy always did it and I hate to wash dishes. 
 How much?  However much you want.  Cooking is NOT baking.  Add a little of what you like, forget the junk you don't.  It's great!  Generally I keep putting sugar on until it starts falling off.  Put the ham into the oven.  No foil needed.  

Bake it for 45 minutes or so then pull it out. It should already look pretty tasty.  

                         Hello, Beautiful!

 Grab some tongs and pull off the really thick parts of fat and any dark hard rind.  DO NOT throw it away.  That would be a tragic waste!!  

Just put it in the bottom of the baking pan to keep adding to your yummy dripping collection.  If the juices are threatening to overflow, use a spoon or turkey baster to draw the deliciousness out and put it into a pan to make gravy later.  Don't be surprised if someone sneaks a sample of the bark while you are busy taking pictures.  If you want it to be really pretty, put more mustard and a little more brown sugar on at this point.  

Pop the ham back in the oven for another 45 minutes or so.  Poke a thermometer in a nice meaty part and take its temperature.  Be sure not to touch the bone with your thermometer.  Again, a recipe search shows you want a temperature of anywhere from 140 to 150 degrees.  I shoot the gap and aim for the middle.  Anywhere around there is fine.

 Most ham has already been cooked before you buy it. If it's not up to temp, put it back in and check again later.  If it's done, pull it out.  Collect all that delicious goodness at the bottom of the ham in a pan to make gravy.  Tent the ham with foil.  Let it rest for at least 15 minutes, but feel free to sample some of the dark "bark" on the edges, then cover it up!  It can sit for up to an hour in the tent, but DON'T cut it until just before you serve it.    

Sometimes it's gorgeous and looks like that one up there, but sometimes is't not as pretty and looks like this one from last night.  Can't win 'em all, but not to worry, both still taste amazing.  Pretty is as pretty does. (Yes, Mom, I was listening all those years.)     

 Ham gravy is the easiest gravy to make.  No, really.  You won't know exactly how much deliciousness each ham will give you, so I can't tell you exactly how much thickener you need.  Mix about a tablespoon of cornstarch with a little cold water in a small bowl.  Don't just throw straight cornstarch in on the drippings, you'll have yucky lumps.  If you already did, strain the drippings and get out the clumps of starch.  Try again, no big deal.  Add some of the cornstarch slurry and bring it to a boil.  Be careful.  It doesn't usually happen, but if you cook on high like I do, it may kind of foam up and threaten to spill everywhere.  If this happens, just pick the pan up off the burner and stir it do cool it down a little.  Once it dies down, replace it on the burner.  When it comes to a boil, the cornstarch has done all the thickening it's going to do.  If you like it, great!  Time for dinner.  If it's too thin, add some more cornstarch slurry and bring to boil again.  Repeat this as many times as necessary.  If you accidentally get it too thick, just add a little water to thin it.  
Don't forget to make mashed potatoes!!  AFTER the ham has rested for at least 15 minutes, ok we only make it about 10, but try to wait.  

Slice your ham in nice thick chunks and enjoy.  If you think you are starving, make a giant plate like my husband's.  Be sure to get plenty of that awesome ham gravy.  If it spills all over your plate, opps!  Don't worry, no one will judge you if you lick your plate rather then rinse it before it heads to the dishwasher.      
Only slice what you will eat at that meal.  The less time between slicing and eating, the more moist and delicious your ham.    

Leftovers: (well, assuming you didn't eat it all) If you want lunch tomorrow, go ahead and make it.  If you don't, you have a few options.  My husband makes killer breakfast sandwiches every morning before work.  (I know, I am a very lucky girl.)  We leave the bone and a good portion of meat attached and freeze it for ham and beans later.  We slice the rest into sandwich slices and lay them out in a single layer on a cookie sheet covered with waxed paper.  You can make layers if you need to, but don't forget the waxed paper or you will have one big chunk.  After they are completely frozen, you can put them all into gallon zipper bags.  Then when you need one or two, you can get just what you need rather than a big chunk.  

I used some of my leftover ham and some roasted potatoes w/ onions from anther dinner and a nice fresh egg (thanks chickies!) to make this skillet breakfast this morning.  And of course where there is ham, Eggs Benedict is soon to follow. 
Variations:  The beauty of cooking is that you can pick and choose what you like.  If you want to be super fancy, you can add pineapple rings, cherries, and/or cloves before you bake it or after you remove some of the fat and rind.  There are a skizillion recipes for glazes if you want one; when it's so good by itself, I see no need, but to each his own.  Now, quit playing on your computer and go cook something awesome!!       

Got some pics of your ham......well, the one you cooked anyway?  I'd love to see them or hear your suggestions and comments.  

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