If you are fortunate enough to come by a country-cured ham, don't be turned off by the moldy exterior. Here's how to prepare it. This cured ham requires at least a day of preparation time, so plan ahead.
"The New Doubleday Cookbook" by Jean Anderson & Elaine Hanna (Doubleday)
- 1 country ham
- 1 container cloves
- Brown sugar
- Bread crumbs
A day or two before you plan to serve the ham, place in a very large oval kettle, sawing off hock, if necessary, to fit ham in. If ham is very salty, salt crystals will be visible. Cover with cool water and let stand 24 hours at room temperature, changing the water 3 to 4 times. If ham is not salty, change soaking water 1 to 2 times.
Next day, scrub ham well under running tepid water to remove any mold and pepper. Wash well again in tepid water. Place ham on a rack in the same large kettle, add cool water to cover, cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. Skim froth from the surface, recover, adjust heat so water stays at a slow simmer and cook 25 to 30 minutes per pound or until fork tender and bone feels loose; cool ham in cooking liquid. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Lift ham from the liquid, peel off the rind, and trim fat to 1/2-inch. Score in a crisscross pattern and stud with cloves. Pat on a thick glaze (brown sugar and bread crumbs is the traditional glaze for Smithfield and Virginia ham).
Place ham glaze side up on a rack in a shallow roasting pan and bake, uncovered, 45 minutes or until glaze is nicely browned. Transfer ham to serving platter and let cool at least 20 minutes before serving. In the South, these hams are served at room temperature (or chilled), but almost never hot. When carving, slice paper thin.
Source: by Jean Anderson & Elaine Hanna (Doubleday)
Reprinted with permission.