The method of cooking these flavorful salt-cured hams has been passed down for generations. Was it possible that it was just . . . wrong?
Why This Recipe Works
Country ham is a dry-cured, (almost always) smoked, aged ham. Ages range from three months to two years. Hams less than 400 days old are generally cooked by the pervasive traditional method of soaking in water for a period of 12 to 48 hours to draw out the salt and moisten the meat, followed by a simmer in a large pot of fresh water. As we found out, this process is time-consuming, unwieldy, and unnecessary. The soaking did nothing to mitigate the salt content or introduce moisture to the ham. It turns out that cooking the ham in a low oven in a covered roasting pan with just a quart of water was sufficient to produce a juicy ham and reduce moisture loss. This eliminated the hassle of soaking, finding a pot the size of a bathtub, and sloshing boiling water all over the kitchen.