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When it comes to cooking a meal for Sunday lunch or for a special day like Christmas, Easter or Thanksgiving dinner a pork roast, ham steak or ham joint is a delicious choice for the main meat. Either way, a fully cooked uncured ham of this nature is often a popular and delicious choice. However, if cooking an uncured ham for the first time you may feel a little bit out of your depth. If so though, don’t worry as we’ll show you how to cook uncured ham in the best way possible to fully enjoy the flavour of either a frozen or fresh ham joint.
Table of Contents
What Is Cured Ham Vs Uncured Ham?
When it comes to ham, uncured and cured ham are two different distinct types that you are likely to have heard of. You may not be too familiar with the differences, however, such as how they are prepared for sale or the different contexts within which they are served to those eating them. As such the terms cured and uncured when it comes to ham will likely confuse you. If so, the differences between the types of ham are as follows:
- Cured Ham: Curing meat is the process of using salt and chemicals such as sodium nitrate or nitrate for the purposes of preventing bacterial growth or spoilage. The result of which is that cured ham will have a prolonged shelf life along with having some added savoury flavour. Two different methods can be used for curing meat such as ham. These are wet curing in a brine or dry curing with a rubbing seasoning. Some examples of cured meat include pepperoni, hotdogs, deli ham and bacon.
- Uncured Ham: Whilst, the above description implies that uncured ham has not been cured at all, this is not actually the case. Instead, it will often be cured with more natural methods. Some examples of ingredients used for such include celery powder, celery juice, sea salt, and beet extracts. As such, the term uncured is typically defined as meats preserved without the use of nitrates or nitrites. Some different types of uncured hams include some types of deli ham, bacon or hotdogs along with some cuts of pork like pork belly.
Thawing Frozen Hams
Raw pork can be stored in the refrigerator for approximately three or five days after the sell-by date. In particular, they should be refrigerated at a temperature of approximately 40°F (or about 4°C). Following this, if you want to keep it for longer then you should freeze it. Fortunately, your hams will be able to freeze quite well and can be easily defrosted and cooked. Some methods of doing so include the following options:
- Cooking From Frozen
- Defrosting In The Fridge
- The Cold Water Method
Cooking From Frozen
If you do not wish to go through the process of defrosting and thawing your leftover ham, then you can always cook it without cooking it first. The advantage of doing so though is that it will mean that you will not need to go through the process of defrosting first.
That said though, when you do cook your shank portion, fresh ham that you have frozen and not thawed will take longer to cook in the oven. For example, when cooking some larger cuts of frozen uncured hams, you will need to cook them for approximately one and half times the amount that the cut would usually take to cook it.
Defrosting In The Fridge
In order to ensure that the ham will defrost safely then you should do so in a way that will allow the inside and outside of the ham joint to defrost evenly. As such, slowly and gradually thawing your ham in the fridge is the slower and safest way to do so.
As such, the refrigerator needs to be kept at a temperature of around thirty-five to forty degrees Fahrenheit. The reason is that defrosting at these temperatures will help to discourage the growth of bacterial organisms on or within the ham.
When thawing in the fridge though, it is important to ensure that it thoroughly defrosts before cooking. As such a good rule of thumb for a small ham is to allow it four to five hours per pound to defrost. Meanwhile, for a larger roast, roughly five to seven hours per pound will likely be necessary.
Additionally, when defrosting in the fridge you should ensure that you place the frozen joint on a larger platter/tray and cover it loosely with foil or cling film. The reason is that this will help you to prevent drippings from spilling on your fridge.
Once thawed, it can be kept in the fridge for between three and five days. During which time it can be refrozen. Although, doing so will cause the ham to lose some of its flavours with each subsequent refreezing.
The Cold Water Method
The second option for defrosting your ham joint will be to use the low the cold water method instead. Now, of course, this will be a quicker option and will be perfectly safe so long as appropriate precautions are taken.
When following this method simply place your ham in a bag that will not leak and seal it tightly as the water may taint the flavour of the joint. Following this immerse the bagged ham completely in fresh cold water. This can either be done within a large bowl or in the kitchen sink.
When using this method it is of vital importance that you avoid using warm water. Additionally, it is also crucial that you replace the cold water every half an hour until the joint has fully defrosted.
When thawing in this method though, it is important to ensure that the ham thoroughly defrosts before cooking. As such a good rule of thumb for a small ham is to allow it two or three hours to defrost the joint. Meanwhile, for a larger roast, roughly half an hour per pound will likely be necessary.
When you are using the cold water method to defrost your ham joint, you should refrain from using the sink for anything else at the same time as defrosting the ham. You should also not allow the water used to splash any other surfaces. Additionally, you should be certain to sanitise any surfaces or utensils used during the defrosting process.
Once defrosted in this method, you should not refreeze this ham unless cooked first. The reason for this is that doing so will allow bacterial organisms to have potentially grown.
How To Cook Uncured Ham?
When it comes to cooking some uncured ham, there is a multitude of options for ways in which you can do so. As such, below we will simply be presenting the best options that will be available to you when cooking some uncured ham. In our mind this is fresh ham that is coated in a delicious maple balsamic glaze.
Uncured Ham Ingredients
When following our recipe for cooking uncured ham to our recipe, there is a list of vital ingredients that you will need in order to do so. The following ingredients should be quite easy to locate. Additionally, the quantities of the ingredients listed below will be suitable for approximately ten to twelve people. As such, for a lower number of people simply reduce the quantities by an appropriate amount. With that in mind then, the ingredients needed for our uncured ham recipe are as follows:
- Ten to twenty-pound butt or shank portion of skin on ham
- One cup of maple syrup
- Half a cup of balsamic vinegar
- Half a cup of toasted pecans
- Half a cup of candied ginger
- One teaspoon of ground cinnamon
- Four teaspoons of kosher salt
- Four teaspoons of ground black pepper
Recipe For Cooking Uncured Ham
When you are cooking a joint or butt of uncured ham there is a simple process which you can follow in order to do so effectively. With the above ingredients in mind then, when you are planning to cook some uncured ham you should adhere to the following steps:
- Preheat your oven to a temperature of roughly four-hundred and fifty degrees Fahrenheit (or two-hundred and thirty-two degrees celsius).
- Cut through, the skin of the ham joint with a sharp knife in a diamond shape in order to score the entire surface of the meat. When you cut at the appropriate depth you’ll know as the skin will slowly start to spread as you cut.
- Rub the exterior of your ham joint’s skin with some salt and pepper. Ensure that when you’re doing so that the salt and pepper get into the crosshatch spaces you’ve created between the skin.
- Place your ham joint on a roasting pan and then place it in the oven for twenty minutes.
- After twenty minutes, reduce the oven temperature to three hundred degrees Fahrenheit (or approximately one hundred and fifty degrees celsius).
- Whisk together your maple syrup, balsamic vinegar and cinnamon in a small bowl.
- With your syrup mixture and your fat from the pan baste your ham every hour.
- Keep roasting your ham joint until it reaches an internal temperature of approximately one-hundred and forty-five degrees Fahrenheit (sixty-two degrees celsius). Using a meat thermometer is an accurate way to determine when this has occurred.
- Create a pecan/ginger mixture by lightly pulsing your toasted pecans and candied ginger within a food processor. Do so until the texture is crumbled and well combined.
- Once your ham is cooked, you should remove it from the oven. This should take roughly two and a half to three hours to occur. As such, you begin checking the roast after two hours of cooking.
- When out of the oven, remove the joint from the baking pan and sprinkle your pecan/ginger mixture over your ham.
- Loosely cover your joint with some foil and allow it to rest for approximately twenty to thirty minutes. When doing so the internal temperature of your ham joint will increase to roughly one hundred and fifty degrees Fahrenheit (or sixty-five point five degrees celsius).
- Pour the pan juices from the roasting pan into a bowl and season with salt and pepper.
- Heat the pan over the hob on a medium heat and scrape off any browned bits.
- Mix with the juices and pour them into a gravy boat.
- Carve your ham into thick slices and serve with the gravy boat to cover the meat in its juices.
How To Carve Uncured Ham?
Now that you have cooked your ham following the recipe above, you will of course want to serve it. When doing so though, you will naturally wish to do so in the best manner possible. This is especially true when you have cooked a larger joint and are looking to serve your roasted uncured ham to a series of guests. With this in mind then, when you are carving your roasted uncured ham, you should ensure you follow the instructions below to carve ham effectively:
- As mentioned above, ensure that your joint has been allowed to sit after being taken out of the oven. The reason is that carving too soon will cause much of the remaining sauce and juices will be lost from the roasted ham joint itself.
- When it comes to carving a roasted joint of uncured ham, you will need to of course ensure that you have a knife that is incredibly thin, incredibly long and also incredibly sharp. If your carving knife blade has become dull then you should sharpen the blade before carving. To do so, you will need either of the following pieces of apparatus:
- Whetstone (steel sharpening stone): To use a whetstone, hold your carving knife at a ten to fifteen-degree angle from the stone. Following this, in steady strokes push the blade back and forth against the stone in order to sharpen it.
- Steel Sharpening Rod: To use a steel sharpening rod simply angle the rod at twenty-two degrees in relation to the knife blade. Following this, pull the blade edge down against the steel sharpening rod approximately five to ten times, to ensure it is sufficiently sharp.
- Place your roasted ham joint upon a chopping board.
- From the thin side of the joint slice off two to three slices parallel to the length.
- Turn your ham joint so that it is resting upon the newly created flat side of the ham.
- With a carving fork, hold the ham joint firmly and begin cutting thin slices across the ham and down to the bone of the joint. When you are doing so, ensure that you start from the shank end of the ham joint.
- Once you have cut the slices, slice parallel to the bone. Doing so will release the previously cut slices from the joint ready to be served.
- Turn the than joint around to the point where there is meat present. Following this, you should repeat the steps outlined in steps six and seven.
- When you have finished carving your roasted ham joint, place ham upon the serving platter.
- Finally, serve your platter of roasted uncured ham along with some complimentary dishes at the centre of the table for you and your guests to enjoy.
Suggestions For What To Serve With Uncured Ham
Roasted ham joints like that found in the recipe above will often be found served during special events such as Easter, Christmas or Thanksgiving. However, it will also often be served for Sunday dinner or for a meal for a large amount people. Naturally then, a roasted uncured ham joint such as a pork shoulder joint will typically be served with an assortment of other foods including side dishes, sauces and even desserts for afterwards. Some examples of such dishes include the following options:
- Potatoes: An assortment of options for serving with ham include a multitude of potato dishes. These include options based on both regular and sweet potatoes as they will bring in a multitude of options to serve with the ham. Some examples of such include creamy mashed potatoes or potato salad. Meanwhile, sweet potato options such as sweet potato casserole or roasted sweet potatoes.
- Vegetables: An incredibly diverse array of vegetables can often be found served with uncured ham. These include greens such as green beans, roasted brussels sprouts or roasted asparagus. Meanwhile, other options include root vegetables such as the aforementioned roasted sweet potatoes, parsnips or carrots.
- Sauces: When serving a roast dinner such as a roasted uncured ham joint, sauces are often a common option for what serve with it. Of course, as mentioned above, a gravy made with the juices from the pork is a great choice. Some other great options though are bread sauce, mustard sauce, apple sauce, cranberry sauce, pineapple chutney or cranberry sauce makes for a great option.
- Desserts: Naturally, when you are serving a meal of this type, you will likely also wish to have a dessert prepared to serve afterwards. With that in mind then, there is a wide variety of options for what will make a perfect follow up course to a main centred around a roasted ham joint. Two particularly wonderful options for a chocolatey dessert dish would be cookies or brownies. Some alternate ideas though would be hot cross buns or a yoghurt parfait.
Naturally, these are only some of the possible options that can pair well with your roasted ham joint. In fact, there is a multitude of options that you can serve with your cooked uncured ham. For more information about the sides mentioned above and other possible options then sides that go with easter ham are a great choice. As are those sides that would go perfectly with some ham steak.
Answered – How to Cook Uncured Ham?
An uncured ham joint will typically be a section of meat that acts as the primary dish in a wide variety of meals such as for Sunday dinner or at family celebrations. As such, you may have found yourself wanting to try cooking it yourself with no idea of how to do so.
Fortunately, as outlined above, thawing a frozen uncured ham, roasting a joint and then subsequently carving it are simple processes once you know how to do so. Additionally, when serving some cooked uncured ham, there is a wide variety of options for what to serve with it.
With that in mind then, you are now perfectly prepared for undertaking the task of cooking your own uncured ham. As such, it’s time to start the preparations for your meal before serving it for both yourself and your guests to enjoy.
FAQ – How to Cook Uncured Ham?
Do you cook an uncured ham?
Uncured ham is a type of ham that does not use chemical preservation methods. Instead, it will use more natural means for preservation. With that in mind, there are a wide variety of different types of uncured ham, some of which can be eaten without cooking whilst many other types will typically need cooking. Some examples of which include pork belly or pork shoulder, along with other options such as uncured hotdogs or deli ham.
How long do you cook a uncured ham?
The length of time it will take to cook uncured ham will vary depending on the cut of uncured meat in question. For a large pork joint though, you will find that when prepared and cooked, the uncured ham will take approximately three hours to cook through fully.
How do you cook a fully cooked uncured ham?
The process for fully cooking an uncured ham joint such as a pork shoulder is quite simple, albeit somewhat lengthy. With this in mind then, you should follow the steps below:
1. First, Score the surface of the meat with a diamond shape and season it with salt and pepper.
2. Following this, roast the joint at 450°F for twenty minutes.
3. Simultaneously, prepare a syrup mixture of maple syrup, balsamic vinegar and cinnamon.
4. Remove the ham from the oven and baste it will the syrup mixture and some of the juices from the roasting pan.
5. Turn down the oven heat to 300°F and roast the joint until it reaches an internal temperature of 145°F. Ensure that upon every hour you baste the ham once again. This process should take approximately two and a half to three hours.
6. Whilst in the oven, prepare pecan and ginger mixture by pulsing toasted pecans and candied ginger together in a food processor. Do so until the texture is crumbled and well combined.
7. Sprinkle the pecans/ginger mixture over the joint, loosely cover with foil and allow to rest for twenty to thirty minutes.
8. Meanwhile prepare a sauce from the pan drippings and scrapings.
9. Carve the ham joint and serve.
Which is better cured or uncured ham?
In terms of flavour uncured ham is often the best option as the natural preservatives used will often bring in some excellent extra flavours. That said though when you are wanting to ensure that the ham will last for a longer period of time though, then the option of cured ham will be your best bet as the chemical preservatives will keep the ham fresher for much longer.