Prepared ham is an excellent convenience food but roasted, braised or stewed ham is delicious and offers a tenderness fit for the finest dinner.
What type of ham and what quantity?
True ham comes from the pig’s thigh of the hind leg, but you can prepare a dish that is just as delicious (and cheaper) with the Picnic Shoulder.
Depending on the number of guests, estimate 125 to 150 g (¼ to ⅓ lb.) per person for a boneless ham, and 150 to 225 g (⅓ to ½ lb.) for a bone-in ham.
Since ham is often salty, it's best to desalt it before cooking or, for cooked ham, before eating.
In a large saucepan, cover the ham with water. Bring to a boil. Let stand for 20 minutes, then drain. If the ham is very salty, repeat the process.
In the oven
The trick is to cook it slowly at 160°C (325°F) at roughly 1 hour per kilo (30 minutes per pound).
Roast ham: After removing the rind, put the ham in a large roaster and cover it with a glaze (a mustard-base mixture of brown sugar, maple syrup or pineapple) or stick it, or stud it, with whole cloves. Regularly baste the ham with the glaze, but avoid using drippings, as they are very salty. Once out of the oven, let stand for about 10 minutes before serving.
Quick roast ham: To reduce cooking time while enhancing taste, use a cooked ham which you will glaze and grill in the oven for 30 minutes per kilo (15 minutes per pound).
Braised ham: Cook the ham in a covered pot in about 750 ml (3 cups) of liquid: water, broth, beer, white wine or apple juice. Remove the cover during the last hour of cooking and baste frequently.
In the saucepan
The advantage is that you get a delicious broth which can be used to make a comforting soup.
Boiled ham: Submerge the ham in a large saucepan filled with water. Add 1 onion studded with whole cloves, 1 chopped carrot, 1 chopped celery stalk and 1 bay leaf. Stew at roughly 1 hour per kilo (30 minutes per pound). Remove the ham and vegetables, and keep the broth.
For a glazed ham, remove the ham from the broth when half-cooked and finish in the oven following the instructions for roast ham.
Slow-cooked ham: Spread Dijon mustard over the ham then put it in the slow cooker and add 250 to 500 ml (1 to 2 cups) of liquid. Cook it on a low heat for 7 or 8 hours. You might lose some broth, but you will gain in simplicity!
The remaining cooked ham can be kept for about 7 days in the refrigerator. But it might disappear faster than that! Avoid freezing, as it will lose its flavour.