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Old 01-19-2006, 07:41 AM   #1
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Baked Ham basics

Hi everyone, I hope someone can help me with my doubts.

I have some relatives in Ireland, so I 've eaten quite often roasted ham during holidays, but I live in Italy, and since there is just no tradition of making 'in-house' boned baked ham (In Italy pork legs are used to make seasoned ham or pre-cooked ham), it seems I can't find anyone that can give me hints to prepare it.

I can easily find raw pork legs, which anyway are not treated at all.

I've been able to understand from my relatives that ham is brined before cooking. Usually it is bought from the local butcher already brined,at home it is boiled to let the extra salt getting out, and then baked for one to one and an half hour with a glaze

I've tried doing some research through internet, but the recipes talk about a very short brine and no boiling at all.

So after all this words, here is the question(s): what is the usual way to prepare the ham for cooking starting from the raw meat? Should I brine it or simply put a dry cover with salt? Is a long brine process the cause for the boiling cooking ?

Any suggestion is appreciated

Regards

Claudio

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Old 01-19-2006, 08:19 AM   #2
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I really think this will be a daunting task. I have not eaten Irish ham nor do I know what type of hogs your Italian ham will come from. However, your ham from Parma is very similar to our country ham. In the US we have 2 (or more) types of ham--country ham and "city" ham. City hams are usually "cured" by injecting them with a brine solution and then smoking them. Country hams are cured by submerging them in salt (or salt and sugar with a Smithfield type) for a long time and then hanging to age. These hogs are also usually peanut fed, akin to the hogs in Parma being fed the whey (is that correct--it is something specific to the area).
The reason for boiling is indeed to remove excess salt. When I prepare a country ham I soak it for a number of days in changes of water, and then boil it very gently (bare simmer).
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Old 01-19-2006, 08:44 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gretchen
City hams are usually "cured" by injecting them with a brine solution and then smoking them. Country hams are cured by submerging them in salt (or salt and sugar with a Smithfield type) for a long time and then hanging to age.
So do you boil and bake 'aged' hams ? How long is the aging process for hams to be baked? Here I can find only fresh pork legs or very aged ham (like parma ham, which can't be baked obviously)

Thank you

claudio
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Old 01-19-2006, 08:53 AM   #4
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I think you are talking about 3 different things - a fresh ham (which you call a pork leg) a cured ham (which is what is most popular in the states and has been either salt cured or sugar cured before we buy it) and the country ham(which is similar to your parma ham). My thinking is that you want to take the pork leg(fresh ham) to the salt cured or sugar cured state. I remember my grandfather doing this, but it takes a while, perhaps a matter of weeks or months. I'm not sure this is what you are wanting to do. There are people who process their own hams still, but most of it is done in a meat packing facility here. Am I right in what I think your question is?
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Old 01-19-2006, 08:56 AM   #5
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It seems that there is some confusion over the definition of ham.

Here is a site that will give you some very useful information on ham:

http://www.fsis.usda.gov/Fact_Sheets/ham/

link corrected
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Old 01-19-2006, 08:59 AM   #6
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Licia has the breakdown correct. And here you would just bake a "city" ham in the oven without boiling it. Country ham needs to be soaked, then simmered. Parma hams are different from our country hams in that they aren't smoked. But the meat is similar in that it is almost safe to eat without cooking, it is so cured.
And yes, the country hams are put in the salt for many weeks in order to cure.
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Old 01-19-2006, 09:01 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by licia
My thinking is that you want to take the pork leg(fresh ham) to the salt cured or sugar cured state.
Yes, this is exactly my problem, as I can only find fresh pork legs or very aged hams, I can't find on sale 'the middle way' i.e. cured hams ready to be baked.

Ciao

Claudio
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Old 01-19-2006, 09:04 AM   #8
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I can't get the link above to work. Claudio, I really don't think you will be able to do it. These are also smoked after curing and then aged.
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Old 01-19-2006, 09:28 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gretchen
I can't get the link above to work. Claudio, I really don't think you will be able to do it. These are also smoked after curing and then aged.
maybe Aurora just put an http in excess , http://www.fsis.usda.gov/Fact_Sheets/ham/

I read the page and while it is rather strict in description it gives an hint on the preparation methods. I will have to make some tests on my own

I have one relative here in italy which is a farmer, he is rather good in preparing some pork derivates as salame and other things, since there are some traditional dishes prepared with brining or dry curing process we'll experiment a bit starting from here

Ciao

Claudio
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