Wednesday, March 28, 2012

City Ham

My grandfather in England always prepared a light Sunday supper at 5:00 p.m., about four hours after the main meal. Most often, he would serve thin slices of pink ham with a layer of white fat on the outside, mustard piccalilli relish, some cheese - Cheshire, cheddar, or Danish blue - sliced tomatoes from the garden when they were available, a small salad of bibb lettuce, and slices of whole wheat bread with butter (butter - quite an indulgence in post WWII England). One Christmas night in New Jersey, my friend Sheila, who is from London, served close to the same thing after an earlier dinner of roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, which, to use an expression of Julia Reed's, brought down the house.

But other than that, I wasn't especially fond of baked ham and never thought about making it myself until I found this recipe for John Martin Taylor's "City" Ham in Fine Cooking. He says

This ham is so good that during parties I have to make sure no one's around when I carve it because folks will flat-out pull the thing to death.

I could not resist trying this recipe after reading that, so I made it and liked it - a lot.

I've since found it's nice to have a baked ham on hand around holidays, particularly if you have company coming and going. It's good to slice thin and sandwich between two halves of Tiny Corn Muffins. You can also add a few small cubes to Macaroni and Cheese, gild the lily and put some - maybe along with a few peas - in Fettuccine All' Alfredo, and sizzle in butter to serve with scrambled, fried, or poached eggs. 

And now that Easter is just about here, it's a good option for the main event at dinner.

John Martin Taylor, who is originally from Charleston, calls this a city ham (wet cured) to distinguish it from a country ham (dry cured), which is also delicious but best eaten like prosciutto - sliced paper thin and eaten sparingly. If you look at his blog post where this recipe is embedded, you will find something interesting to read as well as some other great things he makes.

City Ham
Adapted from Hoppin' John Martin Taylor

1 whole bone-in fully-cooked smoked ham or 1/2 bone-in fully-cooked smoked ham, shank end preferred, but butt end is okay (I always make a half ham) Note: This is NOT a canned ham.

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees. Remove your ham from its packaging. Put the ham on a flat rack in a roasting dish, and loosely crumple a piece of aluminum foil over it. You want the foil to be a loose tent, not a tight cover.

Bake the ham at 275 degrees - for 7 to 8 hours if you have a whole ham; for 3 to 4 hours if you have half ham.


  1. As my mom can attest to... one of my all time favorite foods. Ever. Always. Yay for Easter arriving. That's ham time :)

  2. Looks delish! Hope I can recreate this... wish me luck!