Are you a fan of ham? Do you love cooking it for your family and friends? If so, you may have heard conflicting advice on whether or not to boil your ham in the plastic.
Some people swear by it, while others warn against it. So, what’s the truth?
In this article, we’ll explore the pros and cons of boiling ham in plastic and provide you with some helpful tips for cooking the perfect ham.
Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a first-time cook, read on to learn more about this popular cooking method.
Do You Boil Ham In The Plastic?
Boiling ham in plastic is a controversial topic among cooks. Some people believe that boiling ham in the plastic helps to keep it moist and tender, while others warn against it due to potential health risks.
The plastic wrapping that comes with the ham is not designed for cooking and may contain harmful chemicals that can leach into the meat during the cooking process. This can be especially dangerous if the plastic melts or breaks down in high heat.
Furthermore, boiling ham in plastic can also affect the taste and texture of the meat. The plastic can create a barrier that prevents the flavors from penetrating the meat, resulting in a less flavorful dish.
The Pros Of Boiling Ham In Plastic
While there are potential risks associated with boiling ham in plastic, some cooks argue that there are also benefits to this method. One of the main advantages is that boiling ham in plastic can help to keep it moist and tender. The plastic acts as a barrier, preventing moisture from escaping the meat during the cooking process. This can result in a juicy and succulent ham that is not dry or tough.
Another benefit of boiling ham in plastic is that it can be a convenient and easy way to prepare the meat. Simply place the ham in a pot of boiling water, with the plastic still intact, and let it cook for the recommended amount of time. This method requires minimal preparation and clean-up, making it a popular choice for busy cooks.
Some people also argue that boiling ham in plastic can help to infuse the meat with additional flavor. By adding herbs, spices, or other seasonings to the water, the flavors can be absorbed into the meat through the plastic barrier.
However, it is important to note that these potential benefits should be weighed against the potential health risks associated with boiling ham in plastic. It is recommended that cooks remove the plastic wrapping before cooking and use alternative methods to keep the meat moist and tender.
The Cons Of Boiling Ham In Plastic
Boiling ham in plastic can be detrimental to your health. The plastic wrap that comes with the ham is not meant to be boiled, and doing so can cause it to release harmful chemicals into the meat. These chemicals can be especially dangerous if the plastic melts or breaks down in high heat.
In addition, boiling ham in plastic can affect the taste and texture of the meat. The plastic can create a barrier that prevents flavors from penetrating the meat, resulting in a less flavorful dish. This can be particularly disappointing when preparing a holiday ham, which is meant to be a centerpiece dish.
To avoid these potential health risks and flavor issues, it is recommended to remove the plastic wrapping before cooking your ham. Instead, consider using alternative cooking methods such as baking or roasting. These methods will allow the flavors to penetrate the meat and create a delicious and flavorful dish without any potential health risks.
Alternatives To Boiling Ham In Plastic
If you are looking for alternatives to boiling ham in plastic, there are several options available. One popular method is to wrap the ham in aluminum foil before boiling. This will help to keep the moisture in and prevent any harmful chemicals from leaching into the meat.
Another option is to use a large pot or Dutch oven with a lid. Fill the pot with enough water to cover the ham and add any desired seasonings or flavorings, such as bay leaves, cloves, or cinnamon sticks. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cover the pot with the lid. Simmer the ham for approximately 20 minutes per pound, or until it reaches an internal temperature of 160°F.
For those who prefer a more hands-off approach, using a slow cooker or crockpot is another great option. Simply place the ham in the slow cooker with any desired seasonings or flavorings, cover with water or broth, and cook on low for 8-10 hours or high for 6-8 hours. This method will result in a tender and flavorful ham without the need for plastic wrapping.
Tips For Cooking The Perfect Ham
Cooking the perfect ham requires a bit of knowledge and preparation. Here are some tips to ensure that your ham is juicy, flavorful, and cooked to perfection:
1. Choose the right size ham: When buying a ham, make sure to purchase one that is big enough to feed your entire party. The rule of thumb is to purchase either a boneless ham that’s big enough to serve 1/2 pound per person or a bone-in ham that can serve 3/4 pound per person (due to the bone being inedible weight). A ham around 7-10 pounds is enough to feed the average holiday party.
2. Let the ham come to room temperature: Before cooking, pull the ham from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before cooking it to let it come to room temperature. This will ensure that the ham cooks evenly throughout.
3. Score the skin: Score the outside of the ham through the skin and fat with a sharp knife in a diamond pattern. This will allow for better glaze absorption and will also help prevent the skin from curling up during cooking.
4. Cover with foil: To trap moisture and give your ham the perfect steam bath, cover it in aluminum foil while it cooks. This will keep all the juices trapped and steams the ham for wonderfully tender results. Always use foil to cover your ham, never plastic wrap, or you’ll have a ham glazed in plastic as it melts.
5. Cook low and slow: Hams are at their best when given the extra time to cook low, slow, and at an even temperature. While many recipes might call for a 375-degree or higher oven, by cooking the ham for longer at a lower temperature—between 300-325—the result will be a more flavorful cut of meat that isn’t dried out.
6. Glaze towards the end: Glazing the ham at the end of the cooking process adds flavor and a more appealing finished look to its appearance. Increase the oven temperature during the last 45 minutes of cook time to 375 degrees and glaze several times. Once your glaze has been added we’d recommend cranking up the heat temporarily. This will help your glaze caramelize, creating that delectable outer shell.
7. Rest before carving: Once the ham has reached an internal temperature of 140 degrees F, remove it from the oven and let it rest for at least 15 minutes before carving. This allows for better distribution of juices throughout the meat and ensures that it stays moist and tender.
By following these tips, you’ll be able to cook a delicious and impressive ham that will be sure to impress your guests without any health risks associated with boiling in plastic wrap.
Conclusion: To Boil Or Not To Boil In Plastic?
After researching the potential health risks associated with boiling plastic, it is clear that caution should be exercised when cooking with plastic. Bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates are commonly found in plastics and have been linked to disrupting the endocrine system and causing developmental problems. When plastic is boiled, these chemicals can leach into the food being prepared due to the high temperature. High-fat foods are especially susceptible to this leaching.
While some studies have shown that the concentration of these chemicals in boiled plastic may not be high enough to pose an immediate threat to human life, prolonged and repeated use of plastic containers may lead to health problems in the community.
Therefore, it is recommended to avoid boiling ham in plastic and instead opt for alternative cooking methods like baking or roasting. If boiling is necessary, consider using a food-grade plastic bag designed for cooking or wrapping the ham in cheesecloth before placing it in the water. It is important to prioritize safety and health when preparing food, and taking precautions like avoiding plastic in high heat situations can help ensure a safe and enjoyable meal.