How To Cook A Semi-Boneless Ham

Hams make great holiday meals or picnic fare. Here are a few tips for getting the most from your semi-boneless ham.

Cooking a ham is about as primeval as you can get in terms of original recipes. As long as humans have hunted for prey as food, baked or roasted ham has been a staple item. Today this great dish retains strong popular appeal, especially when roasted for the holidays or sliced cold for a picnic luncheon. Here are some tips for cooking the semi-boneless version, which many consumers feel has the best taste due to the partial bone left with the meat.

1. Select the best cut of meat at the butcher's or grocery store. Look for one the right size for your family. It's better to buy a ham that may be a little larger than you need in case company stops by or for those who want sandwiches after the meal. You can always freeze leftover ham, too. Get a good price when you can. For semi-boneless cuts, the cost may average around a dollar a pound. With coupons and on sales days, though, you may be able to pay less.

2. Since your ham probably is already pre-cooked, you should plan to cook it about 15 to 30 minutes per pound at temperatures of 325 to 350 degrees. Consult your cookbook for alternative methods, especially if you want to use a crock pot or an open pit fire or barbecue. Preheat your oven or fire up the grill to get the heat to the right temperature for the ham. You want to ensure that the meat cooks evenly throughout.

3. Remove all packaging from the ham. If this is a store-bought piece of pork, there may be two wrappers. One is the outer plastic wrap with the price tag and brand name. The other can be more of a paper-like, close-fitting wrap that matches the color of the ham rind. In fact, some well-meaning cooks have inadvertently left that second wrapper in place when baking the ham. After removing all wrap, rinse the meat thoroughly and wipe away any debris. If desired, you can trim any visible excess fat.

4. Apply the coating or glaze, unless you are following a recipe that has you wait until the meat is close to being done. Pat it evenly over the surface of the ham. You may want to use a brown sugar and pineapple juice mixture, or you can purchase a prepared topping from the store. Stud the ham's surface with pineapple slices or cloves skewered onto toothpicks to create an even pattern. Make sure the toothpicks aren't inserted so deeply into the skin that they become embedded and pose a choking hazard when eaten.

5. Place about an inch or so of water in the roaster. Set the ham in the middle of the pan. Cover if desired. Bake for the allotted amount of time or until a cooking thermometer confirms the ham has reached the correct internal temperature. You may wish to apply more glaze the last 30 minutes or so of cooking time. You also can add sweet potatoes or other vegetables to the roaster for the benefit of ham drippings.

Allow your ham to cool at least 30 minutes before cutting. Carefully slice the meat around the bone or remove the bone first, saving it for soup if desired. Make sure that everyone removes the toothpicks from their slice of ham before eating.

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