How to Prepare a Ham for Cooking

Ham is a tasty and fairly simple item to cook. Whether you choose to make the classic honey baked ham which is a great combination of sweet and savory, a brown sugar mustard ham or roast an old fashioned pineapple and brown sugar ham, preparation is important. When a ham is purchased many have no idea how to prep it properly let alone slice it after cooking is complete. Here is how to prepare a ham for cooking.

Most likely when you purchase a ham it will be a semi boneless ham. By semi boneless that means that the main bone, also called the aitch bone has been removed but a small bone still remains. When shopping for a ham semi boneless is the way to go because you get the most use out of it which means there is more ham to eat. The first step to preparing a ham for cooking is unwrapping the ham. When doing so, you will discover that it is wrapped in Cryovac plastic. Cut this layer of plastic off and discard. Depending on the ham purchased a second layer of plastic will be present. Be sure to remove this plastic as well. The last thing you want to do is put plastic in the oven.

Once the plastic has been removed from the ham it is time to make a series of cuts to create a cross hatch on the surface of the ham. The reason for cross hatching is for presentation purposes in addition to helping the fat cook down and ensuring the flavors get into the ham. This easy step will also help the ham develop a nice, crispy skin while roasting. To cross hatch, use a sharp knife to make ½ inch deep cuts 1 inch apart all around the ham. When complete, make cuts in the opposite direction. In the end you will have a diamond shaped pattern.

After making your series of cuts the last step to preparing a ham for cooking is applying your seasonings. If you are making a ham with brown sugar hold the ham up and rub with sugar. Make sure to rub around the entire ham and get it into the cracks that have been cut. Also apply any other ingredients depending on the type of ham you are roasting, Then place in a roasting pan and cook.

Once the ham has been roasted and served there will likely be leftovers. One of the best ways to enjoy leftover ham is frying it. In order to slice ham for frying, begin by selecting a sharp slicing knife. To cut an even slice begin by sliding knife back and forth until you reach the bone. When you get to the bone, rotate the ham around in order to slice around the ham. At this point the slice of ham will still be attached around the bone. In order to complete your slice use a paring knife to cut around the bone them lift off your slice.

Overall, preparing a ham for cooking is easy. It all starts with knowing which ham to select and how to remove the plastic. The second part of preparing a ham for cooking is cross hatching. To do so simply use a knife to create a diamond shaped pattern. Once complete, seasonings can be applied and the ham can be placed into the oven to roast. To cut thin slices of ham for frying simply cut around using a slicing knife. Follow by using a paring knife to remove from the bone. With the right prep you will have a delicious ham to serve and enjoy.