Cooking ham from the butcher may seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. Whether you’re preparing a holiday feast or simply cooking for yourself, learning how to cook a smoked ham from the butcher can add an abundance of flavor and versatility to your meal. There are plenty of nuances involved with successfully prepping and baking this juicy meat product; however, following our guide will give you the confidence necessary to get that perfect dish on your plate every single time.
What Is Smoked Ham?
Before knowing how to cook a smoked ham from the butcher, you should know what is smoked ham. Smoked ham refers to the hams that have undergone a curing process and are subsequently hung in a smokehouse to absorb smoke from smoldering fires. This smoking process enhances the flavor and color of the meat while also slowing down the development of rancidity. It’s important to note that not all smoked meat is smoked using smoldering fires.
How Do I Know If I Have A Smoked Ham Or Fresh Ham?
If you’re unsure whether you have a smoked ham or fresh ham, there are a few indicators to help you differentiate between the two. Smoked hams typically have a deep rose color, while fresh hams, which haven’t been cured, have a pale pink or beige color similar to a fresh pork roast. Country ham and prosciutto, both dry-cured, can range in color from pink to a rich mahogany hue.
Additionally, it’s important to note that hams can be ready-to-eat or require cooking. Ready-to-eat hams like prosciutto and cooked hams can be consumed directly from the package, while fresh hams and hams treated only to kill trichinae must be cooked before consumption. Hams that need cooking will have cooking instructions provided alongside safe handling instructions.
It’s worth mentioning that products resembling ready-to-eat hams but aren’t actually ready-to-eat must include a statement on the primary label, indicating that the product requires cooking before consumption. If you come across the term “cook thoroughly” on the label, it means the ham needs to be cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit before it is safe to eat. To ensure proper cooking, Michigan State University Extension recommends using a cooking thermometer to check the internal temperature of the ham.
How To Cook A Smoked Ham From The Butcher?
To know “how to cook a smoked ham from the butcher?”, follow these steps:
- Keep the fat on the ham before cooking to maintain moisture. However, if you prefer not to consume the fat, trim it before serving.
- Place the ham cut side down in a pan.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- As a general rule, heat the smoked ham for 10-15 minutes per pound until the internal temperature reaches 135-140 degrees. It is recommended to use a meat thermometer for accuracy.
- For a half ham, the cooking time is typically around 1 1/2-2 hours, while a whole ham might take 3-4 1/2 hours. To be sure, weigh the ham and check the temperature with a meat thermometer as you approach the estimated cooking time.
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More Tips For Making The Best Ham
- Roasting Method: Roast the ham in a preheated 350 degrees F oven until the thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the ham registers 130 degrees F.
- Temperature Increase: During the last 45 minutes of cooking time, increase the oven temperature to 375 degrees F and glaze the ham several times.
- Proper Doneness: The ham is fully cooked when it reaches an internal temperature of 140 degrees F.
- Resting Time: Allow the ham to rest before serving.
Best Side Dishes For Ham
A smoked ham makes for a delicious main course at any holiday gathering. To make it a complete meal, you’ll need some tasty side dishes to accompany the ham. Some popular side dishes that pair well with a smoked ham include:
- Roasted vegetables such as carrots, Brussels sprouts, and sweet potatoes
- Creamy mashed potatoes or cheesy scalloped potatoes
- Green bean casserole or roasted asparagus
- Homemade dinner rolls or cornbread
Bobby Kelly is a bartender at Molly Magees, an Irish pub in Mountain View. He’s been working there for two years and has developed a following among the regulars. Bobby is known for his friendly demeanor and great drink specials. He loves interacting with customers and making them feel welcome. When he’s not at work, Bobby enjoys spending time with his friends and family.