Are you planning to cook a ham for your next family gathering or holiday feast? If so, you may have noticed that some hams come encased in netting.
But what should you do with this netting? Should you remove it before cooking or leave it on? The answer may not be as straightforward as you think.
In this article, we’ll explore the reasons why netting is used on hams, when to remove it, and when to leave it on.
So, let’s dive in and find out if you should remove netting from ham before cooking!
Do I Remove Netting From Ham Before Cooking?
The answer to whether or not you should remove netting from ham before cooking depends on a few factors.
Firstly, it’s important to understand why netting is used on hams in the first place. Distributors may include netting to help the meat keep its shape during the cooking process. This is especially true for boneless cuts, where the string helps the meat retain a uniform shape both before and after cooking.
However, if your ham is bone-in, the meat will usually slough off the bone as it cooks, which makes for a lackluster presentation. In this case, leaving the netting on can help hold the ham together and make it easier to carve.
If you’re planning to serve your ham shredded, such as for pulled pork, then removing the netting before cooking won’t matter as much since you’ll be serving it in small pieces anyway. But if you want to carve your ham into slices for a more formal presentation, then leaving the netting on can help keep it together and make for a prettier presentation.
It’s also worth noting that different types of netting may require different handling. For example, if your ham comes in a plastic net bag, you should remove it before cooking. On the other hand, if your ham comes in a cotton string net bag, you can leave it on or remove it depending on your preference.
Why Is Netting Used On Hams?
Netting is used on hams to help the meat retain its shape during the cooking process. This is especially important for boneless cuts, as the string helps to hold the meat together and prevent it from falling apart. The netting also helps to create a more uniform shape, which can make for a more visually appealing presentation when carving the ham.
In addition, leaving the netting on can help keep the meat moist and tender during cooking. The netting acts as a protective layer, preventing the outer layer of the ham from drying out or becoming overcooked. This can result in a juicier, more flavorful ham that is sure to impress your guests.
When To Remove The Netting
If you do choose to remove the netting from your ham before cooking, there are a few things to keep in mind. Firstly, if the ham is boneless, removing the netting can cause the meat to lose its shape during cooking. This can make it difficult to carve and may result in uneven slices.
However, if your ham is bone-in, removing the netting can actually help the meat cook more evenly and make it easier to remove from the bone once it’s finished cooking. Additionally, removing the netting can allow for better seasoning and browning of the meat.
Ultimately, whether or not to remove the netting from your ham before cooking is a matter of personal preference and depends on the specific cut of meat you’re working with. If you’re unsure, it’s always a good idea to consult with your butcher or follow any cooking instructions that come with your ham.
When To Leave The Netting On
If you have a boneless ham or a bone-in ham that you want to keep intact during cooking, leaving the netting on can be helpful. The netting will help the meat hold its shape and prevent it from falling apart as it cooks. This is especially important if you plan on carving the ham for a special occasion or dinner party.
Additionally, if your ham is a spiral-cut variety, leaving the netting on can help keep the slices together and prevent them from falling apart. This can make it easier to serve and create a more appealing presentation.
If you decide to leave the netting on, it’s important to remove it properly after cooking. Let the ham rest for at least 15 minutes before attempting to remove the netting. Use a pair of clean kitchen shears to carefully cut away the netting, taking care not to pierce the meat itself. Once the netting is removed, carve and serve the ham while it’s still hot.
How To Remove Netting From Ham
If you’ve decided to remove the netting from your ham before cooking, here are some tips to help you do so easily and safely:
1. Loosen the netting: As soon as you unwrap the ham, loosen the netting by gently pulling it away from the meat. This will help prevent the netting from sticking to the meat during cooking.
2. Use kitchen shears: Carefully snip the netting away from the ham using a pair of kitchen shears. Be sure to cut only the netting and not the meat underneath.
3. Take it slow: Remove the netting slowly and carefully to avoid tearing or damaging the ham. If you encounter any resistance, stop and adjust your grip before continuing.
4. Re-tie with twine: If you’re removing the netting because you want to stuff or butterfly your ham, you can re-tie it with kitchen twine before cooking. This will help hold the ham together and prevent it from falling apart during cooking.
5. Season as desired: Once you’ve removed the netting, season your ham as desired and proceed with cooking according to your recipe.
Remember, removing the netting from your ham is optional and depends on personal preference and presentation goals. If you’re unsure whether to remove it or not, consult your recipe or butcher for guidance.
Tips For Cooking A Perfect Ham With Or Without Netting
Whether you choose to leave the netting on or remove it, there are some tips you can follow to ensure a perfect ham every time:
1. Score the ham: Scoring the ham by making shallow cuts in a diamond pattern can help the fat render and baste the meat as it cooks. This will also allow any glazes to seep into the meat for added flavor.
2. Use a rack: Placing your ham on a rack in a roasting pan can help air circulate around the meat, resulting in a more evenly cooked and crispy exterior.
3. Baste frequently: Basting your ham with its own juices or a glaze every 20-30 minutes will keep it moist and add flavor.
4. Use a meat thermometer: To ensure your ham is fully cooked, use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature. A fully cooked ham should reach an internal temperature of 140°F, while an uncooked or partially cooked ham should reach 160°F.
5. Let it rest: After cooking, let your ham rest for at least 15 minutes before carving to allow the juices to redistribute and prevent them from spilling out when sliced.
By following these tips, you can cook a delicious and perfectly prepared ham with or without netting. Whether you choose to leave it on for easier carving or remove it for a more rustic presentation, your guests will be impressed with your culinary skills.