The greatest substance known to man, woman, mutant goat or intestinal worm. Ham is what gives us power. It's an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together. Especially the penetrates part.
101 Haikus About Ham is perhaps the greatest testament to ham ever created.
IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT HAM
Technically, ham is the thigh and buttock of any animal that is slaughtered for meat, but the term is usually restricted to a cut of pork, the haunch of a pig or boar. Although it can be cooked and served fresh, most ham is cured in some fashion. It is a common deli meat.
Ham can either be dry-cured or wet-cured. A dry-cured ham has been rubbed in a mixture containing salt and a variety of other ingredients (most usually some proportion of sodium nitrate and sodium nitrite), Sugar is common in many dry cures in the United States. This is followed by a period of drying and aging. Dry-cured hams may require a period of rehydration prior to consumption. A wet-cured ham has been cured with a brine, either by immersion or injection. The division between wet and dry cure is not always hard-and-fast as some ham curing methods begin wet but are followed by dry aging.
The majority of common wet-cured ham available in U.S. supermarkets is of the "city ham" variety, in which brine is injected into the meat for a very rapid curing suitable for mass market. Traditional wet curing requires immersing the ham in a brine for an extended period, often followed by light smoking. Traditional wet cured ham includes the English Wiltshire ham and the French Jambon de Paris.
Dry-cured varieties include Italian prosciutto crudo (prosciutto di Parma, prosciutto di San Daniele, prosciutto di Carpegna, prosciutto di Modena, prosciutto Toscano, prosciutto Veneto Berico-Euganeo, Valle d’Aosta Jambon de Bosses, prosciutto di Norcia) and the Spanish Jamon serrano (notably the Cured Ham of Trevélez) and jamón ibérico (notably the Cured iberic Ham of Guijuelo). The United States has country ham (including Virginia ham), which might or might not be smoked. England has the York ham. Germany's Westphalian ham is usually smoked over juniper, in Belgium there is the smoked Ardennes ham, and from China there is the unsmoked Jinhua ham. In Bulgaria the specific Elenski but is produced.
Ham is also processed into other meat products such as Spam luncheon meat. Baked ham is also a traditional dish served on Easter.
In the United States, ham is regulated primarily on the basis of its cure and water content. The USDA recognizes the following categories:
Fresh ham is an uncured hind leg of pork. Country Ham is uncooked, cured, dried, smoked-or-unsmoked, made from a single piece of meat from the hind leg of a hog or from a single piece of meat from a pork shoulder. Smithfield ham, a country ham, must be made in or around Smithfield, Virginia, to be sold as such.
Sliced hamFor most other purposes, under US law, a "ham" is a cured hind leg of pork that is at least 20.5% protein (not counting fat portions) and contains no added water. However, "ham" can be legally applied to such things as "turkey ham" if the meat is taken from the thigh of the animal. If the ham has less than 20.5% but is at least 18.5% protein, it can be called "ham with natural juices". A ham that is at least 17.0% protein and up to 10% added solution can be called "ham—water added". Finally, "ham and water product" refers to a cured hind leg of pork product that contains any amount of added water, although the label must indicate the percent added ingredients. If a ham has been cut into pieces and molded, it must be labeled "sectioned and formed" or "chunked and formed".
In addition to the main categories, some processing choices can affect legal labeling. A 'smoked' ham must have been smoked by hanging over burning wood chips in a smokehouse, and a "hickory-smoked" ham must have been smoked over hickory. Injecting "smoke flavor" is not legal grounds for claiming the ham was "smoked". Hams can only be labeled "honey-cured" if honey was at least 50% of the sweetener used and has a discernible effect on flavor. So-called "lean" and "extra lean" hams must adhere to maximum levels of fat and cholesterol per 100 grams of product.
One of the most popular and expensive hams in the United States is Smithfield or Virginia ham. Through a special curing process Smithfield ham ages. In that time a fungal coat forms over the outside of the ham while the rest of the meat continues to age. This process produces a distinctive flavor, but the fungal layer must be scrubbed off of the ham before being cooked or served.