Need advice on a good ham

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Need advice on a good ham

Postby Karen/NoCA » Sun Mar 24, 2013 9:04 pm

I'm not a huge fan of ham, but I do appreciate a good country ham...dislike the spiral cuts. Years ago, I used to buy a ham at a local butcher shop (that is what they called them way back then) which was wrapped in a netting and smelled wonderful. It has been years since I have purchased one. In June , we are celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary over a two day period. On the second day, I have invited our guests to our home for brunch. I have everything planned for easy service and done ahead. My family loves bacon, but Gene would be at the outdoor grill using the side burner for a long time to cook up what we need, and it gets messy. I figured a good ham would be the way to go, and I think our family would love it. I am thinking of a good smoked ham, that I can heat up in the oven, that would come out moist, and flavorful. What do I ask for, look for, and any great recipe that is easy would be appreciated. We are keeping things simple, with a buttermilk bread egg casserole that is a tried and true winner for us. Another is a savory hash brown casserole with cheese, another winner. A large fruit bowl, with strawberries, blueberries, pineapple, and whatever else is available and sweet by the end of June with a great honey, cinnamon, Greek yogurt dressing. Muffins and quick breads are there too, with home made strawberry jam.

Orange juice, and a slightly sweet southern mint ice tea, and coffee, plus an Orange curd coconut cake , that makes a beautiful presentation will fill out the brunch.
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Re: Need advice on a good ham

Postby Mike Filigenzi » Sun Mar 24, 2013 9:11 pm

Well, I don't know anything about ham but I do know a tiny bit about staying married. Congratulations on the upcoming 50th, Karen! That is something that is well worth celebrating.

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Re: Need advice on a good ham

Postby Brian Gilp » Sun Mar 24, 2013 9:21 pm

I have purchased my last few hams from Prarie Pride Farms http://www.prairiepridepork.com/. Much better than what's in our local supermarket. My wife likes these so much, I am not allowed to buy a ham from anywhere else so no idea if there are better options out there. Yes these are moist and flavorful. The owners are real caring and have called me in the past to ensure that they understand when I need to have the ham so that they ship on the proper day.

I hope you have a great anniversary.
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Re: Need advice on a good ham

Postby Jeff Grossman/NYC » Sun Mar 24, 2013 10:57 pm

Karen: As I understand it, a "country ham" is different from just a ham. The word "country" says that it is going to be really, really salty. I have been warned by Southerner friends that, as a Northerner, I wouldn't like it. Turns out they weren't right but I can see how you don't eat this by itself; it has to go into casserole or at least under a gravy.

I buy ham from my local butcher. I cut a diamond pattern into the skin and insert a clove at each point, then pat on some mustard, then sprinkle brown sugar, and set it into a roasting pan with a couple cups of apple cider. Warm oven -- it's already cooked, right -- for an hour or two, throwing in some dried apricots about a half hour before done.

Now, if you want to avoid some of that sweet, I'd skip the sugar and the apricots. But it may be better yet not to try to adapt a sweet-y recipe and find something that roasts the ham with aromatic root vegetables or maybe just apple and onion.

Please let us know what you do and how it turns out. I'm interested in a good non-sweet-y way to do ham.
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Re: Need advice on a good ham

Postby Dale Williams » Sun Mar 24, 2013 11:17 pm

Country ham is dry/salt cured, it's the ham of my dreams but not what Karen wants from her description. But if you want a country ham, I'd order from Bentons in TN or Newsoms in KY

Sounds like she wants a wet-cured smoked ham, I do pretty much the same as Jeff (stud with cloves, smear with mustard, bake)
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Re: Need advice on a good ham

Postby Jenise » Mon Mar 25, 2013 3:49 am

Yes, Karen wants a "city ham", which is Alton Brownese for a ham that's cooked vs. cured. Spiral cutting is just a recent affectation, but unspiral cut it's still a cooked ham, not an dry cured country ham as it's described in the south.

And Karen, I have no idea what to reccomend to you. Here in Washington there's a local producer that's GREAT, so I haven't had to venture out of state. But I promise you, you don't want Cook's or any of the other mass produced hams that are factory made and fake-seasoned with artificial flavorings (including the smnoke) and a ridiculous amount of salt, such as are typically available in grocery stores. They're typically frozen and unthawed for sale, so the texture is stringy meat and weepy moistness. YUCK, you wouldn't be happy with them. It's a special occasion and well worth ordering from a specialty provider. I'll check into whether or not our local ham producer ships. They might--name is Hempler.
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Re: Need advice on a good ham

Postby Mike Filigenzi » Mon Mar 25, 2013 12:00 pm

Karen - based on what Jenise wrote, you might try Morant's in Sacramento. I've never had their ham but they make great sausage. Their website is
http://www.morants-sausage.com/

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Re: Need advice on a good ham

Postby Jenise » Mon Mar 25, 2013 12:39 pm

Mike, that would be great if there's a local source. If not, I did find that though our local hams aren't distributed any further south than Oregon, they can be purchased on Amazon. Up here I can buy halves (no spiral cut) but online (AmazonFresh) it's whole or spiral cut. I didn't even know they did spiral cut versions, but that's so popular with people-not-like-us I'm not surprised that they had to resort to selling them in order to be competitive with the crappy brands. For the size of the crowd Karen's talking about feeding a whole ham wouldn't be over the top. It's a great brunch item and the leftovers make great sandwiches etc, or more breakfasts later. I routinely buy 6-7 pounders for just Bob and I! The whole hams run 18 -20 pounds according to the website, though when I buy the whole locally (I do one for the Yacht Club breakfast every year) they're usually 15-17, and I have to look and look to find the 17 pounders, too. I bake a whole one for four hours, scoring it and basting with orange marmalade. Doesn't get any easier, and it's sure pretty.
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Re: Need advice on a good ham

Postby Carl Eppig » Mon Mar 25, 2013 1:20 pm

There are many excellent online choices, and I could easily name a half dozen. I think the best bang for the buck is: http://www.beansmeats.com/Hams-Spiral-S ... Glazed.htm It could be a little pricy to ship across the country though!
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Re: Need advice on a good ham

Postby Karen/NoCA » Mon Mar 25, 2013 1:33 pm

Jenise, it seems Hempler is offering the hams again this year for Easter, says they are thick spiral cut, and cut further down on the bone. I did not see anything about a uncut ham. We are having 16 people for the brunch, mainly family and before they leave for the drive back to Sacramento. I'm gathering you have not tried their spiral cut? My dislike of them is that the ones I have had, dry out so fas, and are cut very thin. Since we don't need the ham until the end of June, I probably should check out other sources. We do have two locally owned meat shops that have great stuff. The one closer to us, actually smokes their own bacon, makes sausage, etc. I will check on that and also sources that Brian and Mike suggested.

Thanks everyone for the suggestions, I will check them all out.
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Re: Need advice on a good ham

Postby Karen/NoCA » Mon Mar 25, 2013 1:51 pm

Mike Filigenzi wrote:Well, I don't know anything about ham but I do know a tiny bit about staying married. Congratulations on the upcoming 50th, Karen! That is something that is well worth celebrating.

Thanks Mike, I like your comment about knowing a "tiny bit" about staying married. Made me smile. Yes, it is something well worth celebrating. :D
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Re: Need advice on a good ham

Postby Karen/NoCA » Mon Mar 25, 2013 3:40 pm

I have purchased my last few hams from Prarie Pride Farms http://www.prairiepridepork.com/. Much better than what's in our local supermarket.


The lady at the above link stole my heart. She was as sweet as can be, explained to me all about her hams, told me how much I should get, and is including some of her customers favorite recipes for the ham. A bit pricey but hey, 50th anniversaries don't come around twice! I also loved the fact that there is no chemicals and she told me they are not salty and that is why so many customers order them. They are very busy right now with Easter and some hams will be sold out, so I ordered now as they are frozen anyway. Thanks!
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Re: Need advice on a good ham

Postby David Creighton » Mon Mar 25, 2013 4:18 pm

the new york times just did a whole story and tasting on ham. seemed really complete. don't have the link but can't be too hard to find. complete tasting notes so you could find the one that appealed to you.
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Re: Need advice on a good ham

Postby Jenise » Mon Mar 25, 2013 9:50 pm

Karen/NoCA wrote:Jenise, it seems Hempler is offering the hams again this year for Easter, says they are thick spiral cut, and cut further down on the bone. I did not see anything about a uncut ham. We are having 16 people for the brunch, mainly family and before they leave for the drive back to Sacramento. I'm gathering you have not tried their spiral cut? My dislike of them is that the ones I have had, dry out so fas, and are cut very thin. Since we don't need the ham until the end of June, I probably should check out other sources. We do have two locally owned meat shops that have great stuff. The one closer to us, actually smokes their own bacon, makes sausage, etc. I will check on that and also sources that Brian and Mike suggested.

Thanks everyone for the suggestions, I will check them all out.


Whole hams were on the AmazonFresh site. And no, I've not done the spiral cut. I'd so much rather cook and cut from whole or whole halves--season it the way I want to and carve off what I want the old fashioned way. The whole spiral cut thing seems to support the notion that what most people do is put a slice between pieces of bread. Me, that's about the LAST thing I want a ham for.
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Re: Need advice on a good ham

Postby Jeff Grossman/NYC » Mon Mar 25, 2013 10:13 pm

Jenise wrote:The whole spiral cut thing seems to support the notion that what most people do is put a slice between pieces of bread. Me, that's about the LAST thing I want a ham for.

It strikes me that the spiral thing is just about laziness... somebody else did the slicing, all we have to do is tug on it.

And, of course, it's an excuse to slather on the sugar.
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Re: Need advice on a good ham

Postby Karen/NoCA » Mon Mar 25, 2013 11:42 pm

It strikes me that the spiral thing is just about laziness... somebody else did the slicing, all we have to do is tug on it.

And, of course, it's an excuse to slather on the sugar

True that, and they think it is a great presentation. Hummm... I want good taste, moist, and something my family would love. Gene can deal with the bone, he is a former meat cutter, after all. Plus, I have the bone for soup, beans, or whatever I want it for.
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Re: Need advice on a good ham

Postby Christina Georgina » Sun Mar 31, 2013 7:20 pm

Karen,
My friend has been ordering hams from Petit Jean in Arkansas for many years. Just this year got to taste one and it was fabulous. Not overly sweet or smokey and perfectly moist. Check out their web cite.
She got a whole ham this year about 55 # and gave me the bon which still had a lot of meat on it. Best country ham I've ever had.
Congrats on the upcoming anniversary.
Mamma Mia !
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