The Complete Guide to Selecting the Best Ham for Your Holiday Dinner
What better way to celebrate the season with loved ones than over a platter of succulent ham? There are so many different types of hams available nowadays that it’s difficult to know which one is best for you and your holiday dinner. Not understanding the distinction between whole and half leg hams could lead to an inferior final product or, worse, the purchase of an unnecessary luxury item. This guide will break down all your options so you can make an educated choice without breaking the bank this holiday season!
A holiday meal would be incomplete without a succulent ham. There are many different types of hams available, such as half leg ham, full boneless leg ham, half-boneless leg ham, small ham, sliced-leg ham, and whole-boneless leg ham on the bone. The type of meat you purchase is determined by your preferences. If you’re having an intimate dinner for two people, a small ham might be enough. When hosting a large family or group of guests for Christmas dinner, a whole leg ham on the bone is a great choice.
Now that you’ve decided on a ham, it’s time to decide what kind of ham you want. The best type of ham for roasting whole is a full boneless leg ham, which has more fat and will keep your ham juicy and tender. Half boneless leg ham can also be roasted whole, but should be cooked at a lower temperature than a full boneless leg. If you are looking for sliced or diced ham, then you’ll want either half leg ham or small ham. Recipes that call for smoked hocks or ham shanks work well with ham hocks as well. Traditionally, a whole leg ham on the bone is cooked slowly in the oven with fresh herbs until the meat is tender enough to fall off the bone.
When selecting a cut of meat, it is critical to know where to find a low-cost cut. The cheapest cuts of meat are usually found at grocery stores, but if you’re looking for higher quality, then look online. So, why are some hams more expensive than others? The most common answer is that they come from a higher-quality breed of pig. Over generations, breeds like Berkshire and Duroc have been bred to produce flavorful, lean meat with less fat. They’re also fed better and raised in cleaner conditions, which can make all the difference in their flavor and texture.
Feeling the bone is the best way to tell if it’s a good ham. If it feels sturdy and doesn’t show any signs of cracking or splitting, then you’re in luck. However, if it feels weak and looks cracked, then don’t buy that ham because it will be too dry. Another sign of poor quality ham is when the fat on the outside begins to yellow and turn brown; this indicates that it has been sitting for a long time and is also overly dry.