Ham is a cut of pork taken from a hog's upper hind leg. A fresh ham is not cured, salted or air-dried. Nor is it pressed or moulded like a canned ham or smoked like a country ham. City hams that are soaked in a brine and then either smoked or boiled are the most common type of hams. Fresh hams must be thoroughly cooked and flavoured.
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Cooking a Fresh Ham
When cooking a fresh ham, the flavour has to be added since it is not cured. The ham can be soaked in a salt brine flavoured with brown sugar, garlic, peppercorns and bay leaves. This will infuse the ham with flavour. If the ham is cooked at a high heat, then finished at a low heat, it will have a crispy skin and flavourful meat. The typical glaze for a ham is made of brown sugar, mustard and molasses, and then topped with sliced pineapples.
Glazes for Fresh Hams
The flavour from the ham comes from the different glazes and spices that are put on top of the ham. A apple-maple ham glaze can be made from applesauce, apple butter, raisins or currants, maple syrup and ginger root. Try an Asian inspired glaze of plum jam, hoisin and soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, crushed red peppers and grated ginger. Many different flavours can be used to create a unique glaze for the ham. Glazes are usually applied in the last hour of cooking so that they will not burn, yet will sufficiently flavour the ham.
Ham with Sage and Garlic
For a fresh ham that is not on the sweet side, cooking it with sage and garlic will infuse a lot of flavour. A few cloves of garlic and some sage put on top of a scored ham will create a savoury ham. The fresh ham can be cooked in an oven at 232 degrees Cor one and a half to two hours until completely cooked. It is important to cook pork products thoroughly before eating. The ham should end up crusty and brown with tender, succulent meat.
A fresh ham will not contain preservatives or artificial flavours. The flavour of the ham depends on how it is cooked or glazed. Since ham is pork, many flavours that are compatible with pork roasts such as apples will also work well with a fresh ham. There are Asian and Thai spices that also flavour ham, such as five spice powder, cinnamon and anise. The ham can be boiled to infuse these flavours rather than roasted.
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