The holidays are coming, and what better way to celebrate than with a Holiday Country Ham.
In a lot of ways knowing how to pick your holiday country ham is like how to pick your holiday sweet potatoes, apples, greens, cranberry sauce and favorite beverage. What kind do you like and how many folks do you need to serve? Do you like a sweet and mild ham or do you like the intense, savory flavor of a well aged Virginia Country Ham?
The best way to determine what kind of ham to buy is review Virginia Traditions and check out the holiday ham section. Each ham page has a list of flavor attributes underneath the name of the ham, whether its cooked or uncooked, whether it is bone in or boneless, aged, intense, sharp/savory flavor or sweet flavor, size range and how many folks it will serve. Keep in mind if the ham is called honey baked, honey cured, sugar cured, glazed or baked it likely is a mild and sweet ham. If it is called a Genuine Virginia Ham, country ham, dry cured ham, or aged ham it is probably intense, savory, a fermented cured flavor and a little salty to some folks taste. Most hams from Virginia are smoked as all Edwards honey cured, Virginia Hams, Wigwam hams, and Edwards country hams have a slight to intense hickory smoked flavor.
In my house the 11-14 month old Wigwam Ham is the favorite for the holiday or special occasions center of the table ham meals. If I have time we cook it at home using the water cook method and then add brown sugar glaze and cloves and finish off the ham by browning it in the oven. (See how to cook a ham)
We allow the ham to cool a little then slice the ham paper thin while it is still hot and juicy (a super sharp, 8” or longer blade is best.) See How To Carve a Ham.
I like the intensity of the 11-14 month old Wigwam ham because the longer you age the ham the more intense the flavor. Also a bone in ham has more flavor to my taste than boneless because deboning a ham causes some of the hams natural juices/grease (and flavor) to run out of the ham. But if yield and ease of carving is important get a boneless ham.
Honey glazed, sugar cured, Baked ham, honey cured, honey baked labeling usually means a sweet and mild ham. Most spiral sliced hams are also this sweet and mild variety although there are some country ham companies spiral slicing their hams. I like these when my northern cousins are in for a visit. My mother would likely serve one of these for Easter.
Dry cured, Country Ham, genuine Virginia Ham, Aged all denote a more intense, savory, a fermented country ham twang (a technical term for the flavor you get from an aged ham) , and a little salty to some folks taste. Edwards Country hams are typically aged for a mild country ham flavor up to 4 or 5 months. These hams come cured uncooked, cooked, bone in, boneless, cooked slices and uncooked country ham slices (1/8-1/4” thick steaks) are ready for the skillet. Our most popular ham in this category is the Edwards petite cooked boneless Virginia ham. Remember: a cooked country ham should always be sliced paper thin. I like this ham for every day country ham meals. This is a great breakfast country ham for my taste. We sell the most of this variety and one that my Dad help pioneer the curing method for; intended for those that wanted a milder country ham.
The Edwards Wigwam Brand ham is aged from 11-14 months and is the original cure that my Grandfather started selling in 1926 from methods that he learned from his father and grandfather. We use the same methods he used in the day to produce a more intense “country twang”. In some ways it is similar to aged cheese…the longer you age it the more intense the flavor like in cheddar or parmesan cheese. These hams come uncooked, cooked and cooked boneless. Always slice paper thin.
Last but not least in Edwards family of hams is the Surryano or our American country ham version of the Prosciutto or Serrano ham served cured and not cooked. It is aged on average around 18 months. Slice this ham so thin you can see through it and serve as you would there European cousins as a tapas, wrapped around a melon, or in combination with a pasta dish or poultry. This ham comes wholes bone in, boneless, and sliced. I like it rolled up in mozzarella. Check Out Our Ham Recipes