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Desalting Store-Bought Ham: A Guide to Roasting Delicious Ham

Desalting Ham: A Guide to Roasting Delicious Store-Bought Ham

Store-bought ham can be a delicious and convenient centerpiece for any meal. But sometimes, that convenience comes with a salty price tag. A ham that’s overly salty can overpower the other flavors in your dish. Fear not, fellow ham enthusiasts! Here’s how to desalt your store-bought ham for a perfectly balanced flavor, along with tips for buying, flavoring, and roasting it to juicy perfection.

This guide will equip you with the knowledge to transform a potentially one-note ham into a flavorful and impressive centerpiece. So, ditch the salt shaker and get ready to enjoy a delicious and perfectly seasoned ham!

Desalting Store-Bought Ham 101:

  • Soak it Up: The key to removing excess salt is a good soak. Place your ham in a large pot or container filled with cold water. Ensure the ham is completely submerged. Refrigerate for 12-24 hours, depending on the ham’s size and saltiness. Change the water every 4 hours for optimal results.
  • Time is Key: A smaller ham (under 10 lbs) can soak for 12 hours, while larger ones might require 24 hours. If you’re short on time, cut the ham in half for more surface area, allowing the salt to leach out faster.
Desalting Ham: A Guide to Roasting Delicious Store-Bought Ham
Desalting Ham: A Guide to Roasting Delicious Store-Bought Ham

Quick Desalting with a Flavor Boost:

Sometimes, time is of the essence. Here’s a method to desalinate your store-bought ham and add delicious flavor in under an hour:

  1. Veggie and Spice Bath: Place your ham in a large pot and fill it with cold water to cover the ham completely.
  2. Flavor Builders: Add aromatics like 1 chopped celery stalk, 1 chopped carrot, 1-2 teaspoons of peppercorns (adjust depending on ham size), and the rind of 1 orange.
  3. Gentle Simmer: Bring the water to a gentle boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. This allows the vegetables and spices to infuse the water with flavor while drawing out some of the salt from the ham.
  4. Soak and Discard: Cover the pot and remove from heat. Let the ham soak for 30 minutes in the flavorful liquid. Discard the water and vegetables after soaking if you do not intend to use it for other meals.
  5. Proceed with Roasting: Pat the ham dry and follow your preferred roasting recipe.

This quick method effectively removes some salt while adding subtle yet delightful vegetable and citrus notes to your ham. Ham cooking water can be use for soup, stews, and for cooking rice or other grains.

Remember: This method is for pre-cooked hams that only need reheating. Fresh ham requires a longer cooking time.

Buying the Right Ham:

  • Fresh vs. Cured: Fresh ham requires cooking before consumption. Cured ham, the more common choice, is already cooked and needs reheating.
  • Label Love: Check the label for sodium content. Generally, hams labeled “water added” or “ham and water product” tend to be saltier.
  • Size Matters: Estimate 1/2 to 3/4 pound of ham per person, depending on whether you’re serving it as a main course or part of a larger spread.

Flavor Boosters:

  • Glaze Glorious Glaze: Brushed on during roasting, a glaze adds sweetness and moisture. Popular choices include brown sugar, honey, mustard, or pineapple. Get creative and experiment with flavors!
  • Herb Haven: Fresh herbs like rosemary, thyme, and sage complement the ham beautifully. Stuff the cavity with them or sprinkle them on top before roasting.
  • Fruity Flair: For a touch of sweetness, add pineapple chunks, cherries, or even apricot preserves to the glaze.
Desalting Ham: A Guide to Roasting Delicious Store-Bought Ham
Desalting Ham: A Guide to Roasting Delicious Store-Bought Ham

Roasting Tips:

  • Preheat Party: Ensure your oven is preheated to the recommended temperature, typically between 325°F and 350°F.
  • Score to Impress: For a beautifully caramelized crust, use a sharp knife to lightly score the ham’s fat cap in a diamond pattern.
  • Tent it Up: Cover the ham loosely with foil during most of the roasting time to retain moisture. Remove the foil in the last 15-20 minutes to crisp up the skin.
  • Internal Temperature is King: Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the ham. It’s done when it reaches 140°F for pre-cooked hams and 160°F for fresh hams.

Bonus Tip: Reserve the leftover soaking water for making a flavorful bean soup after you’ve discarded the salty water.

With these tips, you’ll be a ham-roasting pro in no time! So go forth, desalinate, roast, and enjoy a delicious and perfectly seasoned ham for your next gathering.

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