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Whole Country (Salt cured) Ham - Need Ideas

MemphisMemphis Posts: 144
edited 9:09PM in EggHead Forum
I have a whole salt cured ham I want to cook for Christmas Dinner. Never cooked one whole. I have heard to soak (changing the water regulary)for anywhere from 1 -3 days. I've heard you have to braise it in a sweet liguid for hours. I've heard you cannot cook them on the Egg (grill). I'm sooo confused. Here is what I'm thinking. Soak for 48 hours changing water twice a day. Braise in a liguid (sweet) on the egg for about 10-12 minutes per pound. Them finish with a glaze and smoke indirect for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Please let me know your ideas. Thanks


  • Memphis,
    Country ham is a thing unto itself, like Prosciutto. Following is instructions for Va ham, which we have around here. It's often served on biscuits, or with a flavorful gravy but it's very salty and not soft and moist. [p]How Should Cured Pork Be Cooked?[p]Because Virginia ham is dry salt cured, they may need to be soaked before cooking. The length of time of soaking is important and should be influenced by the individual's taste for salt. Longer soaking results in milder hams.[p]To Prepare: Follow instructions on the bag or use the following directions. Scrub ham thoroughly in warm water using a stiff brush. Soak short cure ham 4 to 8 hours or do not soak if full flavor is desired (Virginia Favorites recommends soaking it's hams for 24 hours, changing the water every 6-8 hours). If a milder flavor is desired, soak ham 12 hours or longer. Soak long cure ham in cold water 10 to 12 hours or overnight; change water after 10 hours. The ham may be scrubbed after soaking.[p]Note: Virginia Favorites recommends soaking its hams for 24 hours, changing the water every 6-8 hours.[p]To Cook: Place ham in a large cooking utensil, skin side down. Cover with fresh water. Bring the water to 180 degrees F (not quite simmering). Then allow to simmer covered. Add hot water when necessary to keep ham covered. Cook until done, about 20 to 25 minutes per pound to 160 degrees F internal temperature. The ham is cooked when the flat (pelvic) bone can move easily.[p]Lift ham from the utensil. Remove skin, allowing a ¼ inch fat covering on ham for scoring. Dot the surface with cloves if desired and sprinkle with brown sugar (or preferred glaze) and brown in a 40 degree F oven (approximately 15 minutes).[p]Alternate Method: This method is recommended to be used only when preparing short cure or long cure country hams and does not require a large vessel. Soak ham as described in above directions, then wash and scrub thoroughly. Wrap in heavy-duty aluminum foil, joining the edges carefully and forming a vessel with the bottom layer. Add 4 cups of water for a short cure ham or 5 cups of water for a long cure ham within the foil and place in oven with a tray or shallow pan underneath for support. Cook by the following methods:
    Place ham in cold oven and set temperature to 400 degrees F (Start timing when oven reaches 400 degrees F).
    Cook ham at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes.
    Turn off the oven for 3 hours, leaving ham inside.
    Reheat oven to 400 degrees F and cook ham for another 20 minutes.
    Turn off oven and let the ham remain in oven for 6 to 8 hours or longer (overnight is satisfactory).
    Complete preparation as described in directions for cooking Virginia cured hams.

    [ul][li]Virginny Ham[/ul]
  • thirdeyethirdeye Posts: 7,428
    Memphis,[p]I think you can cook a country ham on your Egg (heck, you can pop corn on an Egg if you set your mind to it) but the question is why do you want to?. If there is one thing that a country ham is long on, it's flavor. Sometimes too much flavor for some folks. Unless you are tired of the way they come out when cooked in an oven, I think I would go that route.[p]The best ones (for my taste buds anyway) had a long soak and were braised in water, and basted with a "pop mop" to offset some of the saltiness.[p]~thirdeye~

    Happy Trails

    Barbecue is not rocket surgery
  • Memphis,[p]Well, there could be as many opinions about country ham as there are members of this forum, but I'll risk adding my $.02 worth...[p]Salt cured and so called sugar cured country ham is a southern food that has been popular for many years. Considering myself a southern boy, I pretty much only eat it as a breakfast meat that has been sliced thin and fried. The drippings make the best red-eye gravy (as opposed to bacon or sausage) to spread on grits and or eggs. Because of different recipes that farmers use (most of which have been passed down from their fathers and grandfathers) and other factors, some are very very salty, and others are not quite so salty. Some of the salt-cure contains sugar and other spices.[p]I have found that soaking these extra salty hams in water tends to "wash away" the flavor. Some use milk, but while not as bad, IMHO it still dilutes the flavor. [p]If anyone is interested, here's a great way to reduce that saltiness and even add a little flavor:[p]The nite before breakfast, slice the ham and place the slices on a shallow baking sheet and drizzle them with oil. EVOO or vegetable oil will work. It's not necessary to cover them, but get the top surface wet on each slice. Then, sprinkle a light layer of sugar on both sides, and let them soak overnite. Next morning, wipe off the oily, sugery mixture, (don't wash off with water) but leave some of it on each piece. Now they're ready to fry. [p]Fry them just like bacon--slowly, turning frequenty. The result will be a country sugar cured taste. Not too salty, and an enhanced, sugar-cured-like flavor that's a perfect compliment to eggs and grits; and toast or homemade biscuits and jelly.[p]Red-eye gravy is made by heating up the drippings and yum-yums left in the frying pan, adding a lot of pepper, then deglazing the pan with fresh coffee. It looks awful, but it's very very flavor intensive.[p]Hope you try it and enjoy.[p]

  • Memphis,
    GOOD Country ham is great sliced to eat for breakfast. Fry for a short time (maybe 2 min.)on each side. My dad loved red eye gravy, cook 2 or 3 batches of ham them add some coffee and reduce, for eggs and grits. I love the ham but I don't care for the gravy. I think even on the BGE a whole country ham would be a disappointment. Find a good smoked ham and ask the forum for advice I think you will have much more success.

  • stikestike Posts: 15,597
    your egg is not a grill, at least when you set up indirect. then, it is an oven.[p]if you can heat it in an oven, you can heat it in the egg.

    ed egli avea del cul fatto trombetta -Dante
  • MemphisMemphis Posts: 144
    DynaGreaseball, As you can see from my name - I to am a Southern Boy. I also love sliced and fried country ham and grits with red eye gravy. My father in law cures about 40 hams each year and gives me two. One always gets sliced, vac-packed and cooked through out the year. The other one I cook in various ways - just looking for something different this time. Thanks

  • Memphis,
    As a transplanted Yankee I find that country hams are way too salty. The first time I had it I thought I was eating a piece of a salty boot. I can't understand why anyone would ruin good ham this curing it that way. I'll stick with good old hickory smoked ham.

  • thirdeyethirdeye Posts: 7,428
    Bonepile,[p]Don't look at it as ruining a ham, look at it as saving a ham. I'm not trying to talk in circles but curing meats as a means of preservation is an art and goes back a long, long time. Salt cures, brine cures, smoking and drying are techniques that work well, and without them folks would have had some pretty lean times, and early travel would have been very difficult.[p]Now that we have refrigeration, freeze drying, etc., most folks don't carry on the heritage and tradition of things like country ham, jerky, pemmican, salt pack fish just to name a few, mostly because of the reason you mentioned....that stuff is dry and salty. What we do happen to do, somewhat unconsciously, is still have a taste for preserved foods. The neat thing is, we don't have to deal with harsh texture, or super salty products because we have a refrigerator. The next generation of cured products focused on texture and flavor. Take a city ham, a corned beef, bacon, smoked salmon, smoked turkey, smoked cheese, a brisket, sausage or some ribs. Truth is, we like a subtle amount of curing or smoking with it's flavor change and texture change in some of our foods.[p]I guess we are kind of spoiled....because we have all these choices to enjoy.[p]~thirdeye~[p]

    Happy Trails

    Barbecue is not rocket surgery
  • Memphis,[p]Think I might get one of those?
  • thirdeye,[p]After moving to New York from North Carolina when I was a boy, we received 9 whole country hams from different southern friends back home as Christmas presents. A pretty cool gift, since they knew we couldn't get them up there. Well, we knew we couldn't eat all that ham, so Dad gave several of them away as gifts to some of our new northern friends. [p]Years later, we found out that they all got thrown away, because everyone that got one thought they "went bad" because they had an awful greasy, moldy crust on the outside. And the bag they came in stuck to the skin-side of the hams. We wondered why we never got thanked for those gifts.
  • MemphisMemphis Posts: 144
    Bonepile, Quick - find you someone who can fry you up a nice slice of country ham with redeye gravy, real grits (not the instant kind) homemade biscuits, and 2 or three fried eggs !!! And tell me that ain't some good eatin' !!!!!

  • Memphis,
    I've married to a wonderful native North Carolina girl for 26 years and she has tried many times to get me to like country ham but it's just too salty for me. She sure can cook great biscuits though.

  • Bonepile,[p]Please, please, please ask that Tar Heel lady to try my oil and sugar method for you on a couple pieces of country ham. Just try it one more time. It's soooooo good.
  • DynaGreaseball, OK we'll give it a try. She never did it that way, so maybe your way will be good. I hope so, cause there are lots of those hams everywhere around here. Another thought..... Maybe slicing real thin like Prociutto will cut down on the saltiness. Thanks for your ideas.

  • Bonepile,[p]Lemme know
  • Bonepile,[p]My mom used to boil her country hams to cut out the saltiness and it produces a very tender result. I know it doesn't make a BGE fanatic happy to use the stove but I wonder of a country ham wouldn't benefit from a soak in a lot of water before hand to leach out some of the salt. [p]
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