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 a netting. But what should you do with this netting? Should you remove it before cooking, or leave it on?
This question has sparked some debate among home cooks, and we’re here to help settle it once and for all.
In this article, we’ll explore the pros and cons of cooking ham with the net on, and provide some helpful tips for achieving the perfect ham every time.
So grab a cup of coffee and let’s dive in!
Do You Cook Ham With Net On?
The short answer is yes, you can cook ham with the netting on. In fact, leaving the netting on can actually help the ham retain its shape during the cooking process.
The netting is typically made of cotton string and is used by butchers to hold the ham together while it’s being cured. It’s important to note that we’re talking about cotton string netting here, not plastic netting. If your ham comes in a plastic net bag, you should definitely remove it before cooking.
But why leave the netting on? Well, depending on the type of ham you’re cooking, it may be necessary to keep it in place to prevent it from falling apart during cooking. For example, if you’re cooking a boneless joint of ham that isn’t tied, it may uncurl and become wobbly as it simmers. Tying bands of string around the meat can help turn it into a neat barrel shape that’s easier to carve.
What Is The Netting On A Ham?
The netting on a ham is a cotton string net that is used by butchers to hold the ham together during the curing process. It’s important to note that we’re talking about cotton string netting here, not plastic netting. The netting helps the ham retain its shape and prevents it from falling apart during cooking.
Depending on the type of ham you’re cooking, leaving the netting on can be beneficial. For example, if you’re cooking a boneless joint of ham that isn’t tied, it may uncurl and become wobbly as it simmers. Tying bands of string around the meat can help turn it into a neat barrel shape that’s easier to carve.
It’s worth noting that some people choose to remove the netting before cooking. If you’re making a pot roast or a dish where the meat will fall apart anyway, removing the netting is perfectly fine. However, if you’re hoping to carve the ham in front of guests or want it to retain its shape for presentation purposes, leaving the netting on is recommended.
Reasons To Leave The Netting On While Cooking
There are several reasons why leaving the netting on while cooking ham can be beneficial.
Firstly, as mentioned above, it can help the ham retain its shape. This is especially important if you’re cooking a boneless joint of ham, as it may otherwise uncurl and become difficult to carve.
Secondly, the netting can help keep any added flavorings in place. For example, if you’re glazing your ham, the netting can help hold the glaze in place and prevent it from sliding off during cooking.
Thirdly, the netting can help protect the ham from drying out. As the ham cooks, it may release juices that could evaporate and cause the meat to become dry. The netting can help trap these juices and keep them close to the meat, resulting in a juicier and more flavorful end product.
Lastly, leaving the netting on can make it easier to handle the ham during cooking. The netting provides a convenient handle that you can use to lift the ham in and out of the oven or pot without having to touch the meat directly.
Reasons To Remove The Netting Before Cooking
While leaving the netting on can be helpful in some cases, there are also reasons why you may want to remove it before cooking your ham. One reason is that the netting can trap moisture and prevent the ham from browning evenly. This can result in a less appetizing appearance and texture.
In addition, removing the netting allows you to season the ham more thoroughly. When the netting is left on, it can be difficult to get seasoning into all the nooks and crannies of the meat. By removing the netting, you can rub your seasonings directly onto the surface of the ham, ensuring that each bite is flavorful.
Another reason to remove the netting is that it can be difficult to remove after cooking. As mentioned in the raw text above, sometimes the netting can stick to the meat and take some of the delicious seasoned skin or crust with it when removed. By taking off the netting before cooking, you eliminate this potential problem altogether.
Ultimately, whether or not you remove the netting before cooking your ham comes down to personal preference and the type of ham you’re cooking. If you want a neat, uniform shape and don’t mind sacrificing a bit of browning or seasoning, leave the netting on. But if you want more control over your seasoning and appearance, removing it might be a better choice.
How To Remove The Netting From A Ham
If you do decide to remove the netting from your ham, it’s important to do it carefully to avoid damaging the meat. Here’s a step-by-step guide:
1. Using a sharp knife, cut a zig-zag pattern around the shank end of the ham, about 10cm from the end of the bone.
2. Run the knife around the edge of the ham rind.
3. Use your fingers to slowly separate the skin from the fat layer underneath. Be gentle and take your time, as you don’t want to remove any of the fat.
4. Once you’ve removed the skin, use a sharp knife to score the fat in a diamond pattern, about 1cm deep. Be careful not to cut into the ham meat itself.
5. Scoring the fat will help the glaze adhere better and create a more flavorful end result.
It’s worth noting that leaving the netting on can actually make this process easier, as it can help hold the skin and fat in place while you’re scoring it. If you do choose to remove the netting, just be sure to take your time and handle the ham carefully to avoid any mishaps.
Tips For Cooking The Perfect Ham With Or Without Netting
If you’re planning to cook a ham with or without netting, there are a few tips to keep in mind to ensure that it comes out perfectly:
1. Determine the cooking method: There are several ways to cook a ham, including baking, grilling, slow cooking, and using an Instant Pot. Depending on the size of your ham and your personal preference, choose the method that works best for you.
2. Choose the right temperature: To prevent your ham from drying out, it’s important to cook it at a low temperature for a longer period of time. Aim for a temperature between 300-325 degrees Fahrenheit.
3. Use a meat thermometer: To ensure that your ham is fully cooked, use a meat thermometer to check its internal temperature. The USDA recommends cooking ham to an internal temperature of 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
4. Apply a glaze: A glaze can add flavor and help create a caramelized outer layer on your ham. Apply the glaze during the last 30 minutes of cooking, and baste it on every 20 minutes until it’s golden-brown.
5. Rest before carving: Once your ham is fully cooked, let it rest for 15 minutes before carving. This will allow the juices to redistribute throughout the meat and make it more tender and juicy.
6. Consider removing the netting: If you’re having trouble carving your ham with the netting on, you can remove it before serving. Simply cut through the netting with scissors and peel it away from the meat.
By following these tips, you’ll be able to cook the perfect ham with or without netting, whether you’re using an oven, grill, slow cooker or Instant Pot. Happy cooking!