Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Pig out on City Ham!

Sunday was the first recipe I have ever been nervous about making. It was a City Ham! The only reason is because I had to cook a WHOLE ham and have never done this before. The closest I have ever been was making a Thanksgiving turkey, which always turned out great. So even though I had some nerves, I felt confident because of how past turkey's have turned out for me. We invited over my Dad and Glenda & Andy and Sonja for this recipe and it turned out perfect because I had a true critic there. Glenda doesn't even like ham and she is always honest, so I knew she would be my toughest critic to impress! This time around I didn't start my journey at Kroger, instead it was at the liquor store! No, I wasn't so nervous that I had to go and buy some booze to help...the recipe actually called for bourbon. So off I went into the liquor store and Adam and I definitely looked like fish out of water. We had about 3 employees ask us if we needed help as we just stood staring at the bourbon section trying to decide what to get. We finally found these tiny little bottles of bourbon and I used Jim Beam. Then it was off to Kroger to get the ham and all the other yummy ingredients (brown mustard, brown sugar & gingersnap cookies). The first place I stop is at the meat counter and ask the guy if they have city ham. He looks at me with a puzzling look and said, "Well I've heard of country ham, but what's city ham". In my head I'm thinking, aren't you suppose to know, you are the meat guy!! So I tell him it's just a whole ham with hock end on and he says that those are seasonal only during Thanksgiving and Christmas and run about $60! So after picking Adam's jaw up off the floor, we strolled over through the meat section and low and behold there sits a whole ham by the bacon. The only difference between this and what I needed was, it cost less and was partially cooked (hickory smoked). So we grabbed that, since I couldn't wait until Thanksgiving (side note: I'll be in Italy then, WOHOO) and finished getting the rest of the ingredients. Also a side note: All brown mustard is labeled "spicy" brown mustard. Anyway, on to Sunday morning...I started the ham about 10:45 in order to get it into the oven by 11:00 because it said it would take about 5hrs to cook and then 30min to rest. First thing you have to do is give the ham a good little rinse and then place it in a roasting pan (put a towel at the bottom to allow it to drain and to help keep it from sliding during the next step). Next, I took a small pairing knife and "scored" the ham. Basically this is starting at the right "corner" of the ham and making a small incision, if you will, from bottom to top in a diagonal direction. Then once you make it all the way around the ham, start at the left side in the opposite direction and repeat. This should make pretty little diamond patterns all over your ham. Be sure you are only cutting through the layer of skin and first couple of layers of fat, don't cut too deep. Then you place your handy thermometer in the ham and stick it in the oven at 250 degrees for about 4 hours or until the thermometer reads 130 degrees. Don't forget to wash your hands after this step, no one likes Escherichia coli (E. Coli)!! Once the ham reaches 130 degrees take it out of the oven, remove the thermometer (note: they get hot, so use a hot pad) and use tongs to peel away the skin/fat diamonds all over the ham. My tongs aren't great, so this took me about 5 minutes to do. Finally I just grabbed a small knife to help my tongs out. Then take your brown mustard and use a basting brush or brand new paint brush to liberally apply the mustard onto the ham. The next few steps are the messy then take the dark brown sugar and sprinkle a light layer on top of the mustard and pack in slightly as you go around. You WILL get messy during this and if you are anything like me have the lotion handy because you will wash your hands 100 times! After your brown sugar, you take 1oz of your bourbon and spritz (I used one of those 80 cent spritzer bottles in the cosmetic section at Kroger) it all over the ham. Then take your gingersnap cookies and crush them up (I used my blender because I don't have a food processor) and apply to ham in the same fashion as the brown sugar until the ham is covered. Then put your thermometer back into your ham (don't use the same hole as before) and turn the oven up to 350 degrees and bake for another hour or until your ham reaches 140 degrees. This is the only problem I ran in to. I probably should have only done 3 hrs in the morning for my ham because within about 5 minutes my ham was at 140 degrees so I just turned the oven down and kept it warm in order to let all that yummy goodness I put on it crust up. Once that is done, just remove it from the oven and let it sit for about 30 minutes. A lot of people don't know that you need to let meat rest before cutting into it, otherwise all the juices and flavors that you worked so hard at getting will just run out all over the place and you'll have a dry piece of meat. I served my ham with fresh rolls from Kroger's bakery and asparagus wrapped in phillo dough with fresh parmesan sprinkled on top. My father-in-law brought apple pie for dessert, so it was quite the feast. Everyone, including Glenda LOVED the ham and we even had enough to send both my Dad/Glenda and Adam's parents home with the rest!!! After it was all said and done, there was no reason to be nervous. All I had to do was cut, peel, baste and cook the ham. No tricky ingredients or fancy techniques needed!

Recipe Rating: Easy
Good Leftover: VERY
Tip: I would recommend doing this recipe during the Holiday's when the REAL city (or country) ham's are out. It will for sure be a crowd pleaser!!
Stay tuned in 2 weeks- Red Snapper en Papillote

You can find the City Ham recipe here:

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