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Smithfield Marketplace Guide on How to Prepare a Country Ham

How to Cook, Carve & Create Culinary Magic with a Country Ham from Smithfield...

Country Hams | Preparing Your Country Ham | Cooking Your (Uncooked) Country Ham: | Storing Your Country Ham | Carving Your Country Ham | Serving Your Country Ham | More Country Ham Tips!

Country Ham History:

Smithfield Olde World Cure Country Hams are smoked and dry salt cured like the Genuine Smithfield, but only aged for 3-6 months – a process used by the Indians and Colonial Virginia settlers. The result is a more subtle, milder flavor that still retains our distinctive country-cure taste. This shorter shank ham is often referred to as a “cousin” to a Genuine Smithfield.

Our Genuine Smithfield Hams.The Genuine Smithfield Ham is America’s original artisan ham – dry salt cured “country style” and aged for 6-12 months.There is no comparison to the robust flavor of a Luter’s Artisan Genuine Smithfield Ham. No other ham can be called a “Genuine Smithfield” unless it is made in the town limits of Smithfield, Virginia and made according to the strict guidelines set forth many years ago. And there are actually laws to govern this. But what you will notice most is the longer shank and the stronger flavor due to the curing process – which involves hand rubbing with salt, coating with black pepper, and curing for up to a year. Combined with gentle hardwood smoking, this process yields a ham with the rich smokehouse flavor we often call “The Grandaddy of Country Hams”. Enjoy!

Both of our “country-cured” hams are available uncooked to add your own special touches, or fully cooked in our kitchens for your convenience. Fully cooked hams are prepared many ways to suit your needs – bone-in, boneless natural-shape or deli-style, trimmed or untrimmed, spiral sliced, and whole or halves. We also offer a variety of sliced ham packages for further convenience and ease of storage.

Luter’s Artisan or Olde World Country Cure, whichever you prefer... if it says Smithfield, you can be assured you’ve chosen the very best.

Preparing Your Country Ham

If you have received a cooked ham, no further preparation or seasoning is necessary. Just slice (very thin) and serve. Spiral Sliced Country Hams are pre-sliced and ready to serve. No heating is required. However, application of a glaze will require oven heating, following the directions of the (included) Country Ham Glaze packet or your personal recipe. Jordan Hams are brushed with a subtle sherry glaze and should be served at room temperature.

When preparing an uncooked country ham, it must be washed and soaked before cooking, since these hams are dry salt cured. Country Hams should be soaked 12-24 hours. Soak a Genuine Smithfield Ham for 24-36 hours. The length of soaking time is important and should be influenced by your taste for salt. Longer soaking results in less saltiness. Change your soaking water often (we recommend every 4 hours). After soaking, wash your ham thoroughly in warm water, using a stiff brush to remove any remaining pepper or surface mold, if present. Mold is a common and natural occurrence on aged hams (just like fine aged cheeses), denotes proper curing, and does not affect the taste or quality.

Cooking Your (Uncooked) Country Ham:

Water Cooking (Preferred):
 After you have prepared your country ham, place it skin-side down in vessel and cover with cool water. Bring water to 190°F (simmering, not boiling). Cook about 25 minutes per lb. or until 163°F internal temperature. Add water as needed to keep ham covered.

Oven Cooking: After washing and soaking is complete:
(A) place ham (skin-side up) in a shallow roaster, add 4-5 cups water and cover with foil. Or (B) wrap ham in heavy-duty aluminum foil joining edges carefully to form a vessel around the bottom of the ham. Add 4-5 cups water in the foil before sealing. Place foil-wrapped ham on a shallow tray or pan for support. After completing method (A) or (B), your ham is now ready for the oven. Pre-heat to 300°F and bake 20 minutes per lb. or until 163°F internal temperature.

When done, remove ham from vessel to cool, and (while still warm) remove skin or fat as desired. If a sweet coating is desired, use the enclosed glaze packet or your favorite ham glaze recipe. You may also sprinkle the fat side with brown sugar and bread crumbs, then bake at 400°F until brown (about 15 minutes). No further seasoning is required.

Storing Your Country Ham Uncooked hams may be safely stored hanging in a cool dry area at room temperature. Uncooked slices (if kept in a cool dry area) do not require refrigeration until they are opened, at which point they should be consumed promptly. Genuine Smithfield Hams will keep for up to 2 years and Country Hams will keep for up to 6 months without deterioration or loss of quality.

Cooked hams and unopened cooked slices will keep for at least 6 weeks under refrigeration. Cooked slices should be consumed promptly once opened. Boneless country ham may be frozen in freezer paper or plastic, do not use foil. All Genuine Smithfield Hams, Country Hams, and slices are packed for shipment to arrive safely at your destination without refrigeration during travel time. Please refrigerate your cooked ham after receipt, for maximum enjoyment.

Carving Your Country Ham

To enhance the delicate flavor of your cooked ham, you must slice it “almost paper thin” using a long, sharp knife. Country Hams are easier to slice at room temperature.

Bone-In: Prepare the ham for cutting by placing it securely on a flat surface, dressed side up. Secure the ham safely by holding the hock end with your left hand. Begin about 2 inches from the hock (small end) and make the first cut straight through to the bone. Slant the knife slightly for each successive cut. Slice down and partially around the bone, increasing slant as the slices become larger. Eventually the bone formation will cause you to cut smaller slices at different angles.

Boneless: Secure ham and begin slicing at the small end, with slight increases in your slant to portion as desired.

CAUTION: Please secure country hams properly and carefully to avoid personal injury while slicing.

Serving Your Country Ham

Country Hams are most flavorful when served at room temperature. Be sure to slice “paper thin”. Delicious on biscuits, sandwiches, hors d’oeuvres, or as an accompaniment to seafood or poultry. Chopped ham is the perfect flavor enhancer for omelettes, salads, or seasoning for soups, beans or vegetables.

Our Favorite Country Ham Serving Tips:

Country Ham with Red Eye Gravy – Sauté country ham slices in a hot skillet. Remove from pan and add about 1/2 cup water or black coffee. Simmer about 3 minutes, while stirring to collect drippings. Serve over ham slices with hot biscuits and grits.

Party Rolls – Mix softened butter with Dijon mustard. Blend with brown sugar, ground cinnamon and cloves to taste. Spread on tiny yeast rolls and stuff with thinly sliced ham. Heat in foil.

Crab Smithfield – Top thinly sliced ham with fresh crabmeat. Heat in a covered baking dish. Optional: Top each serving with your favorite creamy sauce or fruity salsa. Or serve on toasted English muffins.

Fruit In A Jacket – Wrap thin strips of ham around melon chunks, fresh figs, pear slices, or cheese-stuffed dates. Secure with toothpicks.

Ceasar Smithfield – Add thin sliced ham strips to a savory Ceasar Salad.

Honey Blues – Spread softened bleu cheese on toasted baguette slices. Top with thinly sliced ham and drizzle with honey.

Chicken Smithfield – Butterfly a plump boneless breast and stuff with ham slices and your favorite white cheese. Brush with olive oil and chopped herbs. Wrap with bacon and bake.

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