How to Improve a Cheap, Salty Ham.

I grew up eating home cured ham and nothing has ever tasted as good.

I have developed a “recipe” or rather an effective method for turning a barely edible “loss-leader” supermarket BONE-IN ham (the ones with a lot of salty water injected into them) into something quite acceptable.

However it involves finding some inexpensive maple syrup.
- I usually buy the jugs of the stuff at Costco or Sam’s Club but Trader Joes sometimes has a sale on the “B” syrup which has more flavor.

You need a lot of it because the ham has to be covered at least half way with the liquid.
Using a deeper pan, a small stockpot that will fit in your oven, rather than a wide roaster, cuts down on the volume of syrup.

First you take your ham and trim off as much of the outside fat as possible.
Then you take your trusty chef’s fork or if you don’t have one use an ice pick, and stab the thing all over, stab deep, right down to the bone.
If you have a shank end ham and the shank is quite long, saw it off so you have something that will be easier to turn.
Then rub the ham well with dry mustard, use gloves and really massage it into the surface.
Put it into a pot that is not too much larger in diameter than the ham but leaves you enough room so that you can lift the ham out easily when you need to turn it over during the roasting process.

Start it with the shank end up, don’t lay it on a side.
Add the maple syrup until it comes up well past half way on the ham, if you have enough, cover it but only just barely.

Put it in a slow oven, keep the temperature around 275, certainly not over 300.

At the end of an hour turn it over and put it back in for another hour.

Repeat until the ham has been in the oven a total of 4 hours, turning it every hour.

lift it out of the pot and put it on a wire rack over a sheet pan or in the sink so the excess liquid can drip off. Save the syrup, set it aside to cool.

Then transfer the ham to a dry roasting pan, no need for a rack, turn the oven up to 350 and put it back in the over 30 minutes to brown.

When the syrup is cool, strain it and store it in the freezer, you can use it for another ham or two.

You can also do this with a spiral sliced ham, especially one of the cheap hams that are also usually way too salty, but you have to have it tied fairly tightly so the slices won’t separate during the cooking.

This may sound like a rather expensive solution but as you can re-use the maple syrup for another ham or even two, and it produces a ham that tastes like one of the far more expensive “specialty” hams.

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