How to… Prepare a Ham
Choosing a Ham
Most hams sold in the grocery store are sold fully-cooked. This means they only require re-heating, and a glaze or sauce if desired. A "fresh ham" or leg of pork refers to raw, uncured pork that has not been smoked. It requires full cooking and is sometimes available at regular grocery stores.
There are several different types of fully-cooked hams to choose from:
Bone-in or Boneless - Most people feel that hams with the bone still in are more flavourful; however hams with the bone removed are easier to carve.
Spiral-sliced - These are usually bone-in hams that have been pre-sliced into a continuous shape for convenient serving; the difficulties of carving a bone-in ham are solved, however the slices may tend to dry out because they are pre-cut.
Dinner hams - Dinner hams are made of meat that is chopped and packed in a "football" shape; these usually have added water and so are less expensive than whole hams.
Flavoured - some hams will come with additional flavouring such as Maple or Black Forest.
How Much to Buy?
- Each pound (500 g) of boneless ham will serve 2 - 3 people. For example, a 3 lb. (1.3 kg) ham would serve 6 - 9 people.
- Each pound (500 g) of bone-in ham will serve 1 - 2 people. For example, a 5 lb (2.2 kg) bone-in ham would serve 5 - 10 people.
Cooking a Ham
Fully-cooked hams are best if heated through and served with a glaze.
Pre-heat the oven to 325°F (160 C) and cook, uncovered, until an internal temperature of 140°F (60°C) is reached (use a meat thermometer to check that ham has reached correct temperature). A fully-cooked whole ham will take about 15 to 18 minutes per pound (500 g); while a smaller fully-cooked half-ham will need about 18 to 24 minutes per pound (500 g).
Fresh (uncooked) ham or pork leg needs to be cooked to an internal temperature of 160°F (71°C) just like a pork roast
Never baste ham with its drippings during cooking or it will be too salty. Instead, prepare a glaze and apply it during the final 30 mniutes of cooking.
Leftover cooked ham should be tightly wrapped and stored in the refrigerator within 1 to 2 hours of cooking. Use leftover ham within 5 days. Ham can be frozen, but it is generally not recommended as frozen ham tends to lose flavour and texture.
Leftover ham is fantastic for sandwiches or added to salads, soups, egg dishes or potatoes. Use extra pieces of ham in your favorite quiche recipe or macaroni and cheese recipe. Pineapple and ham pizza is another favourite way to use leftover ham.