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Easter Dinner: Traditional Ham Eats

Easter Dinner: Traditional Ham Eats

Kathie Smith | The Blade, Toledo, Ohio

Easter dinner ushers in springtime foods, from entrees to desserts.

Ham is a perennial favorite, with about 70 percent of Americans serving it for their holiday dinner, according to the Pork Information Bureau.

There are many varieties to choose from for the perfect ham for your needs.

Bone-in hams are available whole, as a shank, or butt half, and typically serve two or three people per pound.

Boneless hams are recognizable by the label and heavy plastic or foil wrapping. Boneless hams keep for several weeks in their original packaging in the refrigerator. A boneless ham will yield four to five servings per pound.

Almost all hams come fully cooked as described on the label. Cooked hams can be served directly from the refrigerator without heating. To serve hot, unwrap and heat to an internal temperature of 140 degrees.

Uncooked hams should be heated to an internal temperature of 160 degrees – they require 20 to 30 minutes per pound at 350 degrees to prepare.

Hams are labeled according to the amount of water added during curing, which is a process of preserving meat. Hams are either dry-cured with salt and spices rubbed into the meat’s surface, or wet-cured with a brine solution. Dry-curing is used for country-style and specialty hams, while wet-cured hams are a choice for everyday sandwiches.

While ham’s flavor is delicious on it own, its taste pairs well with many flavors, from pineapple to a maple glaze or Vernor’s glaze. The tang or sweetness of glazes, sauces, and chutneys brings an interesting and delicious dish to the table.

This Easter, the National Pork Board enlisted the expertise of celebrity chef Rick Bayless with Chipotle-Glazed Ham with Cherry-Jicama Salsa. With flavors such as dried cherries, chopped cilantro, and chipotle chili, the recipe is courtesy of Mr. Bayless and his teenage daughter, Lanie Bayless, authors of Rick & Lanie’s Excellent Kitchen Adventures.