Fresh Ham

Seasoned with cayenne and black pepper.

Fresh ham by goodiesfirst, on Flickr (CC license)

Fresh ham sounds more counter-intuitive than it is. When you go out to eat and order ham, you expect cured ham; if you got a slice of un-cured meat from a pig, you’d call it pork.

This sounds more confusing than it actually is conceptually–read it through once or twice and it’ll make sense.

Technically, a ham is a cut from the upper part of a hind leg of a pig, whether it’s cured or not. Cured hams tend to command higher prices than fresh hams. In some places in the country, then–typically the ones that don’t raise pigs–a fresh ham refers to a section of pork cut from the front leg of a pig, as the hams would always be cured. (When the foreleg cuts are cured in this part of the country, they’re called picnic hams, to signify the smaller size.) The image above is most likely one of these fresh cuts from the front legs.

In places that raise pigs, like North Carolina, you would never call any cut ham except a cut from the hind leg. Cuts from the foreleg are called arm or shoulder. And there’s no name for the cured shoulder in the pig-savvy sections of the country, because with proper ham so cheap and plentiful, there’s no demand for cured shoulders.

From the box of L.R. from Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Fresh Ham

20 lb. ham, fresh

4 days before boiling, lay down; pour table salt–approximately 1 cup, at least. Rub with hands deeply. Wrap in foil and store in cool place for 3 days.

Take out and lay in sink and wash well with cold water using sink sprayer. Put into pot and cover with water until ham is totally covered.

After boiling about 30 minutes, sprinkle in a level Tablespoon cayenne red pepper, add water as needed and keep over ham. Cook 30 minutes per pound.

Cook medium heat. When 1/2 time is up, turn ham over and cook until fork comes out like soft butter.

When done, put in roasting pan so grease will drain. Let cool 30-40 minutes. Put on serving platter. Sprinkle heavily with black pepper; cover with foil. Let sit in cold place for 5-6 hours before serving.

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