How to Choose a Ham
Look at you, purchasing your very first ham! There are a few things you will want to consider before you head to the store.
A ham, by definition, is a salt-cured or smoked hind leg of the pig. Most ham that you find at the grocery store is fully cooked, smoked or cured already. However, if you like to brine, smoke, cure or roast your own, you can buy a “fresh ham” at the butcher shop. We prefer to buy our ham fully cooked because it’s just so much easier.
How much ham per person?
A good rule of thumb is ½ lb. of ham per person. Some folks will eat more, some will eat less, but this will ensure that you always have enough to go around (and maybe even some leftovers — yum!). So if you are having 12 people for dinner, a 6 lb. ham will be plenty.
Boneless ham vs. bone-in ham?
Taste tests typically show that bone-in ham (as with most bone-in meat) tastes a little better, and you get to make Easy Slow-Cooker Ham Bone Soup afterwards. Boneless ham cooks faster and is a little easier to carve, but you might sacrifice some flavor for that convenience. You can use them interchangeably in most recipes as long as you pay attention to the meat thermometer.
What’s a spiral-cut ham?
Spiral-cut ham has been pre-cut, so you don’t need any carving expertise to serve one up. You just need to be a bit more careful about the way you prepare a spiral-cut ham to make sure it doesn’t dry out.
Why do hams have liquid added?
A lot of supermarket hams come with liquid added. Don’t be fooled — it’s just water weight and it makes the ham taste less ham-like. The best hams will be listed with “no added water” or “with natural juices.” Watch out for anything that says “water added” or “water product added,” because it generally means you are paying more for less meat. Plus, it’ll taste watery (or water-product-y!).
Our go-to Easy Honey-Baked Ham is made with whole, bone-in smoked ham — preferably one with no water or juices added.