Our Christmas Eve Dinner included this delicious Spiral Cut Ham.
INFORMATION ON HAM:
Ham is the thigh and rump of pork, cut from the haunch of a pig or boar. Although it may be cooked and served fresh, most ham is cured in some fashion. Cuts referred to as ham in the U.S. are called gammon in the U.K. and Ireland. Ham can be dry-cured or wet-cured.
A dry-cured ham has been rubbed in a mixture containing salt and a variety of other ingredients (most usually some proportion of sodium nitrate and sodium nitrite). This is followed by a period of drying and aging. Dry-cured hams may require a period of re-hydration prior to consumption. Some ham curing methods begin wet but are followed by dry aging.
Dry-cured varieties include Italian prosciutto crudo (prosciutto di Parma, prosciutto di San Daniele, prosciutto di Carpegna, prosciutto di Modena, prosciutto Toscano, prosciutto Veneto Berico-Euganeo, Valle d’Aosta Jambon de Bosses, prosciutto di Norcia) and the Spanish Jamon serrano and jamón ibérico. The United States has country ham (including Virginia ham), which might or might not be smoked. England has the York ham. Germany's Westphalian ham is usually smoked over juniper, in Belgium there is the smoked Ardennes ham, and from China there is the unsmoked Jinhua ham. In Bulgaria the specific Elenski but is produced.
A wet-cured ham has been cured with a brine, either by immersion or
injection. The curing solution typically contain salt, sodium nitrate,
smoke flavoring as well as other additives. Wet cured hams typically
are sold packaged with their curing brine.
Wet cured ham is often commonly sold in tins or 'cans' for preservation. Ham is also processed into other meat products such as Spam luncheon meat.
Fresh ham is an uncured hind leg of pork. Country Ham is uncooked, cured, dried, smoked-or-unsmoked, made from a single piece of meat from the hind leg of a hog or from a single piece of meat from a pork shoulder. Smithfield ham, a country ham, must be grown and produced in or around Smithfield, Virginia, to be sold as such.
Sugar is common in many dry cures in the United States. The majority of common wet-cured ham available in U.S. supermarkets is of the "city ham" variety in which brine is injected into the meat for a very rapid curing suitable for mass market. Traditional wet curing requires immersing the ham in a brine for an extended period, often followed by light smoking. Traditional wet cured ham includes the English Wiltshire ham and the French Jambon de Paris.
In addition to the main categories, some processing choices can affect legal labelling. A 'smoked' ham must have been smoked by hanging over burning wood chips in a smokehouse, and a "hickory-smoked" ham must have been smoked over hickory. Injecting "smoke flavour" is not legal grounds for claiming the ham was "smoked". Hams can only be labelled "honey-cured" if honey was at least 50% of the sweetener used and has a discernible effect on flavour. So-called "lean" and "extra lean" hams must adhere to maximum levels of fat and cholesterol per 100 grams of product.
One of the most popular and expensive hams in the United States is Smithfield or Virginia ham. Through a special curing process Smithfield ham ages. In that time a fungal coat forms over the outside of the ham while the rest of the meat continues to age. This process produces a distinctive flavour, but the fungal layer must be scrubbed off the ham before being cooked or served.