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Everything you need to know about ham

By Susan Selasky
Detroit Free Press

Easter is prime time for ham and every year questions crop up about it:

Q: How much ham do I need?

A: With a bone-in ham, plan on ⅓ to ½ pound of meat per person, more for leftovers. For a boneless ham, figure about ¼ pound per person, more for leftovers.

Q: Butt or shank portion?

A: The answer is purely a matter of preference.

A ham labeled “butt end” comes from the upper thigh, closer to the hip. It typically costs a bit more, is fattier and meatier. Carving can be an issue because of its irregularly shaped aitch bone. A “shank end” is larger so you’ll get more servings out of it. It’s easier to carve, has less fat and costs less. Personally, I prefer the flavor of the shank end.

Q: Bone-in or boneless?

A: A boneless ham costs more, but there’s also less waste and you will get more servings. Boneless will have a binder that holds it together in one solid piece.

Many cooks and meat experts say a ham with the bone in provides more flavor. And you can use the leftover bone to make soup.

Q: Spiral-sliced or not?

A: Spiral-sliced hams are sliced in a spiral fashion around the bone, making serving easy. But you need to watch them closely because they can dry out when reheated. Allow 10 to 18 minutes per pound reheating time. I’ve had good luck reheating spiral sliced hams cut side down in the pan.

Q: How long should I cook it?

A: Fully cooked ham needs a gentle rewarming. Most package directions recommend heating ham in a 325-degree oven. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says the center of the ham needs to reach 140 degrees. Figure 18 to 24 minutes per pound for half, bone-in hams and 10 to 15 minutes for boneless. Allow 15 to 18 minutes per pound when reheating a whole ham.

Q: Glaze or not?

A: Glazes can burn, so many recipes call for adding them toward the end of cooking. But I think they keep the ham moist. You can apply some at the beginning of cooking (make sure the ham is covered with foil) and again after it has reached the 135-degree mark.


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