Ham is a staple in many households, but have you ever tried corned ham?
This traditional Eastern Seaboard dish is a fresh ham cured in salt, resulting in a unique and delicious flavor. While it may seem daunting to cure your own ham, the process is actually quite simple.
In this article, we’ll guide you through the steps to corn a ham from start to finish. So grab your apron and let’s get started!
How To Corn A Ham?
Step 1: Prepare the Ham
Start by rinsing and drying your fresh ham. Using a sharp boning knife, make three or four inch incisions at each place that the bone protrudes from the meat. This is usually three places – one at each end and at one place on the side. Pack as much salt as possible into each of these incisions, then cover the outside of the ham with a thin layer of salt.
Place the ham in a non-reactive pan and cover with plastic wrap, then foil. Refrigerate for 11 days, removing it every four days to drain off any liquid, rub on a bit more salt, then return it to the refrigerator.
On the evening of the eleventh day, wash the ham and flush the salt out of the pockets that you cut. Soak overnight in fresh water.
Step 2: Cook the Ham
The next day, dry the ham and put it on a rack in a roasting pan. Put a little water in the bottom of the pan. Cover the ham with a lid or foil for the first two thirds of the cooking time. Cook it at 325 degrees for 25 minutes a pound.
Uncover the ham for the last part of the cooking and turn the oven up to 350 degrees. This will allow the ham to brown nicely. When it is done, a boning knife will pass easily through the thickest part. Let the ham rest a little before slicing.
Step 3: Enjoy!
The drippings make a delicious if somewhat salty gravy for mashed potatoes. Serve your corned ham at whatever temperature it is at dinnertime and enjoy this unique and flavorful dish.
What Is Corned Ham?
Corned ham is a type of ham that is cured in salt, a process known as corning. Unlike smoked and dry-cured Southern hams, it is rarely found outside two small pockets of the Eastern Seaboard: St. Mary’s County, Md., where it’s used primarily as the basis for stuffed hams, and eastern North Carolina, where hog farming has been a linchpin of the local economy for generations. It’s the one region where it’s still common to find people serving unembellished corned ham.
To make corned ham, you start by preparing a fresh ham by making incisions with a sharp boning knife and packing salt into each of these incisions. The ham is then covered with salt and refrigerated for 11 days, with the salt being reapplied and liquid being drained off every four days. After 11 days, the ham is washed and soaked overnight in fresh water.
Once the ham is ready to cook, it is dried and placed on a rack in a roasting pan with a little water in the bottom of the pan. The ham is covered with a lid or foil for the first two thirds of the cooking time at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for 25 minutes per pound. For the last part of the cooking, the ham is uncovered and the oven temperature is turned up to 350 degrees Fahrenheit to allow it to brown nicely.
Corned ham has a unique flavor and is often served with mashed potatoes and gravy made from the drippings. It’s a deliciously moist ham that can be enjoyed at any temperature, making it a great addition to any holiday meal or special occasion.
Choosing The Right Ham
When choosing a ham for corning, it is important to consider the type of ham and its labeling. Look for a ham that is labeled as “Ham,” “Ham with natural juices,” “Ham, water added,” or “Ham and water product.” Hams with less water content will have a stronger flavor and more natural texture.
One common type of ham in the US is the city ham, which is readily available and relatively inexpensive. City hams are soaked in or injected with a brine of salt, sugar, and flavorings and then lightly smoked or boiled. Look for a city ham in the refrigerated case at the supermarket, likely near the bacon and wrapped in plastic. It will be marked “ready to cook,” “partially cooked,” or “ready to serve.” Choose a city ham that is labeled as “ham in natural juices” for the best flavor.
Another option is to ask your butcher for a bone-in ham leg, which will provide the best flavor. A half bone-in leg weighing around 7 pounds is recommended for this recipe, while a full bone-in leg is generally around 14 pounds. If selecting a full leg, double the curing time as well as the smoking time.
Regardless of the type of ham you choose, make sure it is fresh and has not been frozen. This will ensure the best texture and flavor for your corned ham.
Preparing The Brine
Before you can corn a ham, you need to prepare the brine. The brine is what will draw out the moisture from the meat and infuse it with flavor. To prepare the brine, you will need kosher salt, pink salt (also known as Prague powder or curing salt #
Brining The Ham
Before you can corn a ham, you need to brine it. Brining the ham is the process of soaking it in a saltwater solution, which helps to infuse the meat with flavor and moisture. Here’s how to brine your ham:
1. Prepare the Brine: In a large food-grade container, combine kosher salt, pink salt, brown sugar, pickling spices, and molasses. Boil one gallon of water and pour it over the ingredients in the container. Mix everything thoroughly until the mixture is completely dissolved. This creates a wet cure.
2. Add Water: Add three more gallons of water to the brine to cool it down. The brine is now ready.
3. Cut the Ham: Cut your fresh ham into two equal chunks on a chopping board. If you want to keep the skin, score the chunks so that the brine can soak evenly into the meat.
4. Submerge in Brine: Immerse the chunks of ham in the brine, making sure they are completely submerged. If necessary, place a Ziploc bag filled with water on top of the meat to keep it submerged.
5. Refrigerate: Cover the container and place it in the refrigerator for 3 1/2 days. After two days, you can turn over the chunks and disturb the brine (this is optional).
6. Rinse: After 3 1/2 days, remove the container from the refrigerator and take out the ham. Discard the brine and rinse your brined ham thoroughly under running water.
7. Soak: Submerge the ham chunks in a container filled with fresh water and let them sit for 15 minutes. If you want to reduce saltiness further, let them soak for up to 24 hours.
8. Dry: Place your wet-cured ham on drying racks or blotting papers and blot away as much water as possible with paper towels. Leave them to settle and dry further until a sticky film called a pellicle forms.
By following these steps, you can successfully brine your ham and prepare it for corning. The next step is to cook your ham according to your preferred method for a delicious and flavorful meal.
Cooking The Corned Ham
Cooking the corned ham is a process that requires patience and attention to detail. After 11 days of curing, it’s time to cook the ham to perfection. Here’s how to do it:
First, preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Dry the ham and put it on a rack in a roasting pan. Add a little water to the bottom of the pan. Cover the ham with a lid or foil for the first two-thirds of the cooking time. Cook it at 325 degrees for 25 minutes per pound.
After two-thirds of the cooking time has passed, remove the cover and turn up the oven temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. This will allow the ham to brown nicely. When it is done, a boning knife will pass easily through the thickest part.
Let the ham rest for a little while before slicing it. The drippings make a delicious if somewhat salty gravy for mashed potatoes.
Serving And Storing The Corned Ham
Once your corned ham is cooked and ready to serve, there are a few things to keep in mind for storing and serving leftovers.
Leftovers may be refrigerated for 5-6 days, or frozen and stored for up to 6 months for best results. Glazed ham will safely keep for a week in the fridge, or you can freeze it for up to 3 months. It is best to keep the ham on the bone and then carve as wanted.
If you have excess ham, there are a few ways to store it. You can slice up a fair amount and place it in a vacuum-sealed container for the family to help themselves for sandwiches or other meals. You can also cut off large chunks of leftover ham from the bone and place them in a vacuum-sealed bag for later, or freeze them. Finely diced ham can also be frozen in 1/2 cup portions, making it easy to defrost down the track for quiches, frittatas, omelettes, jaffles, and even soup.
Don’t discard the ham bone as it can be used to make soup. It can be frozen for later use.
Remember to always store your corned ham properly to ensure its freshness and flavor.