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Ham Basics

How to Cook a Country Ham

March 23, 1997|CHARLES PERRY

A country ham needs no refrigeration. It should stay in its packaging to prevent insect damage, but otherwise, it's about as perishable as a piece of wood.

To turn it into something you can cook requires substantial soaking to leach out the salt and to moisten the meat, which can be as dry as jerky. After soaking, younger country hams can be baked right away. Remove the skin and most of the fat when the ham is nearly done and return to the oven to glaze it.

Older hams, by contrast, should always be cooked by boiling. Many recipes also suggest leaving the boiled ham in the hot cooking water overnight with a blanket wrapped around the pot to hold in the heat. This is said to make for more moist, less salty meat. Finally, glaze the older ham in the oven.

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