To Boil a Ham


The degree of soaking which must be given to a ham before it is boiled, must depend both on the manner in which it has been cured, and on its age. If highly salted, hard, and old, a day and night, or even longer, may be requisite to dilate the pores sufficiently, and to extract a portion of the salt. To do either effectually the water must be several times changed during the steeping. We generally find hams cured by any of the receipts which we have given in this chapter quite enough soaked in twelve hours; and they are more frequently laid into water only early in the morning of the day on which they are boiled. Those pickled by Monsieur Ude’s receipt need much less steeping than any others. After the ham has been scraped, or brushed, as clean as possible, pare away lightly any part which, from being blackened or rusty, would disfigure it; though it is better not to cut the flesh at all unless it be really requisite for the good appearance of the joint. Lay it into a ham-kettle, or into any other vessel of a similar form, and cover it plentifully with cold water; bring it very slowly to boil, and clear on carefully the scum which will be thrown up in great abundance. So soon as the water has been cleared from this, draw back the pan quite to the edge of the stove, that the ham may be simmered softly but steadily, until it is tender. On no account allow it to boil fast. A bunch of herbs and three or four carrots, thrown in directly after the water has been skimmed, will improve it. When it can be probed very easily with a sharp skewer, or larding-pin, lift it out, strip off the skin, and should there be an oven at hand, set it in for a few minutes after having laid it on a drainer; strew fine raspings over it, or grate a hard-toasted crust, or sift upon it the prepared bread of unless it is to be glazed, when neither of these must be used.

Small ham, 3½ to 4 hours; moderate sized, 4 to 4½ hours; very large, 5 to 5½ hours.

Obs.—We have seen the following manner of boiling a ham recommended, but we have not tried it:—“ Put into the water in which it is to be boiled, a quart of old cider and a pint of vinegar, a large bunch of sweet herbs, and a bay leaf. When it is two-thirds done, skin, cover it with raspings, and set it in an oven until it is done enough: it will prove incomparably superior to a ham boiled in the usual way.”