Chefs do have a few tricks up their sleeves, but when it comes to holiday ham, all we can really do is heat it up. Sure we can put a fancy glaze on it, but there’s no way to improve the taste, tenderness, juiciness or flavor – so it’s important to start with the best ham possible.
Hams to Avoid
Most of the hams on the market today are chunks and scraps of meat held together with copious amounts of salty water, gelatenous binders and chemical flavorings. While we’d never carry a ham like this at Tony’s, they’re terribly common. Start by avoiding all cheap hams, a dead giveaway, then read the label.
How To Spot a Great Ham
A great ham is trimmed, cured and smoked from single leg of pork rather than a bunch of pieces and scraps ‘glued’ together (eliminating most of the hams on the market today). The second factor to consider is water content. A ‘Ham’ or ‘Dry Cured Ham’ weighs less when cooked than it does raw. A ‘Natural Juice Ham’ uses some water in the curing process and weighs the same after cooking. These are the only two hams I recommend. After that, it’s all about the taste profile you prefer; some are smokier, some sweeter and some higher and/or lower in sodium.
Tony’s Ham Selection
We get to taste a lot of hams, and we’ve put together a particularly nice set this year. All of our hams are made with whole legs or single muscles, and they are all either Natural Juice or Dry Cured. Here’s our holiday selection for 2012 (updated Spring 2014).
Boneless Sliced Hams
These are single-muscle, natural-juice hams that are custom cured, smoked and sliced for us locally at High Valley Farms. They’re boneless, juicy, tender and the flavor is amazing, and at just 2.5-3 LBS, they’re perfect for smaller groups. This same local company also custom smokes and slices turkey breasts of the same size for us. We also offer a selection of Boar’s Head Hams in our deli! Just ask and we’ll slice and tie one for you.
Spiral Sliced Hams
This bone-in, natural juice ham is from a whole leg of pork weighs from 15-18 LBS and can be purchased as a whole or half. They’re moist, tender and very flavorful without being overly salty. There is no skin and the shank is removed, and it’s sliced around the bone for easy serving. We torch glaze them by hand and wrap in foil so they’re ready to roast. This is our best-selling ham thanks to its quality and reasonable price.
Bone-in Old Fashioned Ham
The same as our Spiral Sliced Hams above, just not sliced. They’re about 20 LBS whole, or we can split.
Kurobuta Mini Karver Hams
Another name for Berkshire, these small 1.5-2.5 LBS single-muscle hams are like nothing on the market – they have a little bone on one side, are super moist, tender and gristle free, and have the lowest salt content of any ham we offer. The perfect choice for the connoisseur with a smaller group to feed.
Fresh Holiday Ham
This is a raw leg of pork, like a pork roast. It is not cured or smoked and is essentially a big pork roast. Available whole or half, bone in or boneless.
Tender Belly Berkshire Holiday Hams
(Not available for Spring of 2014!)
This old world heritage breed of pig is larger and wonderfully marbled, making for a particularly juicy, flavorful and tender ham which is also lower in sodium. Cured and smoked locally by Tender Belly, they’re available in 8-10 LBS halves only (and you must try their bacon, it’s amazing! We also offer other fresh cuts of their premium Berkshire Pork). This is one of the finest hams we have ever offered! Supplies are limited so pre-orders are welcome! Call the Tony’s nearest you.
Old Fashioned Dry Cured Bone-in Ham
(Not available for Spring of 2014!)
These bone-in, dry-cured whole leg hams have no skin or shank and weight 11-15 LBS whole, or we can cut in half. Wonderfully smoky, full flavored and saltier than our other hams, they’re the perfect choice for the lover of old world and country hams. Supplies are limited.
Heating Your Holiday Ham
A cured and smoked Holiday Ham is fully cooked and can be served safely cold, at room temperature or hot (don’t confuse this with a Fresh Ham, which is a raw leg of pork).
Take your ham out of the refrigerator 1-2 hours before reheating and place in a shallow roasting pan. Preheat oven to 275°, add 2-3 cups hot water or ginger ale to the pan, cover loosely with foil and heat to about 130° internal, about 10-12 minutes per pound. If your ham is already wrapped in foil, just place it in the pan and add water.
Note: If you are cooking other foods in the same oven and need to use a higher temperature, thats not a problem, it will heat nicely at 325-350 degrees as well, and times won’t be affected all that much.
If you want to glaze, or add more glaze to a pre-glazed ham, remove the foil from your ham for the last 30-60 minutes and increase temperature to 350-375° and brush on more glaze. Running the convection fan will also increase the rate of browning. Keep a close eye during glazing, glazes are sweet and sugar browns quickly and is prone to burning!
Dozens of Ham Recipes
Click for our recipe page, search the word ‘ham’
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