Posted by Tim Vidra / Monday, March 17, 2014
How To: Cook a Broadbent Country Ham for Easter
Easter is right around the corner and if you have never tackled cooking a whole country ham I am going to walk you step by step through the way my family always cooks these classic country favorites. First off, the ham. I know, I know — I am from Virginia and have great options right here but I'll share that I've been purchasing and cooking with a Kentucky ham from Broadbent Hams for the past 10 years! They're that good.
Why I choose a Broadbent ham? All of their country hams are aged for 6-to-9 months before they're ready to ship to your dinner table. This hickory smoked and dry-curing process is what gives their hams a distinct Kentucky flavor. Another reason is how clean these hams come out of the bag. I have yet to receive a Broadbent ham that I had to do anything with once I received it other than prepare it for cooking.
I hope to detail throughout today's post how incredibly easy it is to cook a whole country ham to feed and impress your friends this Easter.
- 17 pound Broadbent Country ham
- 1-1/2 cups brown sugar
- 1/2 cup dark molasses
Once you receive your ham you can hang it in a cool dark place (out of the reach of pests or animals) until ready to use. The day before you are ready to cook* the ham remove it from the bag and rinse with warm water scrubbing off any mold. As I mentioned above, I have never seen any mold on a ham from Broadbent so a quick rinse is all I have ever done. Fill your sink (or any vessel large enough to cover the ham) with tap water, making sure to completely cover the ham. I let my ham soak for a minimum of 12-15 hours. I'm from the South and prefer a saltier ham — the longer it soaks the less salty it will be.
*E.A.T. Tip: You can cook this ham a week ahead of time, pull it out Easter morning and slice.
After soaking, remove ham from the water and pat it dry with paper or hand towels. Preheat the oven to 325°. Using a meat saw, hack saw or butcher saw cut the hock 4-5 inches off the end. Reserve this in the freezer as it has many uses for flavoring soups and stews!
Place your ham in a large roasting pan with rack in bottom, adding water to fill the base without touching the ham. Cover and bake in the oven, estimating 15-20 minutes of cook time per pound. The ham will create some juice and if you notice water evaporating you can add more during the cooking time. For this 17 pound ham, my final cook time was 4 hours 35 minutes. Rotate the ham 180° in the oven at halfway mark. There is a point about 3 hours in when your house becomes filled with wonderful smoky aromas. Once cooked, remove the ham from the oven and pan, allowing it to rest and cool for about 20-25 minutes on a foil-lined baking sheet. Absolutely reserve the ham drippings and stock, as this can be frozen in large plastic bags for other uses.
Once cooled to the touch, trim the fat off from around the ham. I like to leave a good bit of fat on, so trim to your personal liking.
Once trimmed of fat, mix the brown sugar and molasses together — this is going to be our rub. Apply a good coating along the top and down the sides of the ham. Do not worry about beauty at this point, the sugar and molasses will melt once in the oven. Return ham to a 375° oven and keep an eye on it for 10-12 minutes, rotating halfway through.
Once sugar and molasses coating has melted, you will have a nice glaze to work with. Allow the ham to cool completely. Once cool, wrap in aluminum foil and place in a refrigerator until you are ready to slice and put it on the table.
When you are ready to slice the ham, remove from refrigerator, unwrap and starting on the side where the hock was removed, slice the ham to your preferred thickness.
Serve the sliced ham on platters — of course ham biscuits and ham salad is in order with any leftovers.
This recipe is how my family has always cooked a country ham and of course there are other tried and true methods. The point is, cooking a whole ham is not as intimidating as it may look. Does it take some time? Yes, but well worth it in the end.
E.A.T. local E.A.T. well
Full Disclosure: Broadbent Country Hams was gracious enough to provide a ham for the purpose of this post. I have been a customer of Broadbent's for 10 years and the recipe, thoughts and opinions are indeed my own.