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Let's talk ham. Fresh, smoked, cured? Which do I want and why?

I've never made a ham before, but have committed to making one for my cooking club holiday feast this weekend. Several of the recipes on this site look amazing--some call for fresh ham, some for smoked or cured. How do I decide? I'm not sure I've ever had a fresh ham--does it taste like a giant pork chop? Will my cooking club think I cheated if I start with a cured or smoked ham?

asked by Ms. T about 5 years ago
6 answers 10813 views
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Sam is a trusted home cook.

added about 5 years ago

I'd stay with cured hams, partially cooked hams. "fresh hams" are a bit labor intensive, as are "Virgina" style hams that are dried and salted, which require long soaking to remove the salt and help hydrate them.
This is a good recipe http://www.foodnetwork...
and I think Youtube will offer up video of the processes.

A pineapple sauce served with ham is great addition. use some allspice, cloves and cinnamon in the sauce.
I don't think anyone will think it's a cheat using a cured partiality baked ham anymore than not making procuitio from scratch. The glaze and sauce are the additions you bring to the ham.

BTW: Corn bread, collards and blackeyed peas are must (to me) with ham.

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added about 5 years ago

I love Alton Brown for stuff like this. I had actually just watched his city ham video right after I posted my question and before I got your response ;)

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Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

added about 5 years ago

I made a cured ham using the food52 recipe by tastefood "smoked ham with pommegranate molasses, black pepper and dijon at the potluck party and it was amazing. I am actually thinking of trying Wssmom's fresh ham recipe for new years, It will be my first time dealing with a fresh ham I have always done cured and they are wonderful with very little cooking time,

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added about 5 years ago

last year I bought a cured aged ham from a place in Kentucky - I paid extra for them to to the prep of scrubbing and soaking, so it was supposedly ready to eat. Holy cow, was it salty. Next time I will do the prep myself, and soak it a looonng time. I have purchased cured hams prepared by Meat Science students at a university, and they were fantastic - not aged however, which is prob why they were less salty. You probably know all this already, but just thought I would share my experiences for the other novices.

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added about 5 years ago

i usually cook a fresh ham. i prefer them because i control the flavoring. they do NOT taste like a pork chop at all. not salty either because they are not preerved with salt and who knows what else.

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added about 5 years ago

Thanks for all the helpful tips, folks. I ended up getting a bone-in ham that was cured and smoked and followed this recipe from Epicurious.http://www.epicurious.com...
It came out great! Next time, I think I'll try a fresh ham, just to see what the difference is. Thanks all.