Thursday, December 29, 2011

Smithfield ham epic: Part I

I went on my monthly grocery store trip today which, since I don't own a car and public transportation is nigh on useless in Nac, ends up being a Tolkien-esque walk home (only with a lot less singing and more profanity). This time though I decided to only buy what I could carry without too much fussin and cussin.* 

As many of you may know I love going to the grocery store during a weekday afternoon between one and four. The crowds are relatively minimal and I can take my time browsing and shooting the shit with old people and soccer moms. During this trip, while shuffling around the store selecting random salty things (anchovies, pesto, capers, kalamata olives, feta) and large amounts of greens, I came across Smithfield hams on after Christmas sale. Not just sale, hella wicked sale - $15 for a 16lb Smithfield ham. Carrying it home kind of sucked, since I had to Igor it over my shoulder whilst carrying everything else. I'm surprised I didn't get stopped by the cops for carrying a bloody burlap sack.

If you're not familiar with Smithfield hams then you should seek one out. They are the Cadillac of Virginia hams and usually go for a good chunk of change ($79.00 on their site). I've only eaten Smithfield once or twice and never on my own dime so you can see why I was excited to find one on sale. Below is the recipe from their site. Now I have to figure out how I can cook this bugger.

Suggestions for Cooking an Old-Fashioned Favorite: Official recipe from

To prepare ham:
Wash ham thoroughly in warm water. Use a stiff brush to remove surface mold if present. This mold is in no way injurious. Aged hams, like ages cheeses, mold in the process. To reduce saltiness, soak ham in cold water for 12-24 hours prior to cooking. Changing the water during soaking will aid in drawing salt from the ham. (If a milder salt flavor is desired, soak ham for 36 hours). Cook your ham using the Water or Oven cooking instructions listed below.
Water Cooking (preferred method):
Place ham skin side down in vessel and cover with cool water.
Bring water to 190 F (simmering, not boiling).
Cook approximately 25 minutes per pound or until 163 F internal temperature.
Add water as needed to keep ham covered
When done, take ham from vessel. While the ham is still warm, remove skin and fat as desired.
If a sweet coating is desired, sprinkle the fat side with brown sugar and bread crumbs and bake in oven at 400 F until brown (approximately 15 minutes)

Oven Cooking:
Wrap ham in heavy-duty aluminum foil joining edges carefully and forming a vessel with the bottom layer. Add four cups of water within the foil and place in oven with a tray or shallow pan underneath for support.
Cook by the following method:
Preheat oven to 300 F.
Bake ham for approximately three hours or 20 minutes per pound.
Using a meat thermometer, check for 163 F internal temperature in the thickest part of ham.
Remove ham and let cool to room temperature for one hour.
Remove skin and fat as desired.
If a sweet coating is desired, sprinkle the fat side with brown sugar and bread crumbs and bake in oven at 400 F until brown (approximately 15 minutes).

Suggestions for Carving:Use a very sharp knife and cut VERY THIN slices. With ham on platter, fat side up, begin slicing about two inches from hock or small end. Make first cut straight through to the bone. Slant the knife for each succeeding cut. Decrease slant as slices become larger.
CAUTION: Please be careful while slicing ham to avoid personal injury.

*A good trick is to have those cloth bags in tow and learn to guesstimate/Tetris the groceries into the bags with minimal effort.

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