Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year 2012...and HAM!!

Happy New Year!!

2011 had its share of ups and downs; though I'm not big on making resolutions, I have set myself a few goals for 2012. After spending several months down and out due to a torn LCL & peroneus longus and now being FINALLY finished with PT and cleared to resume normal activity, I definitely want to get back into shape by getting back into a more active lifestyle. 

I want to save more money (the new Aldi opening 5 miles from my house is going to help immensely!), and eat/drink better; paying more attention to portion control and nutrition, especially. I'd also LOVE to declutter my home somewhat; I spent a good portion of this past week doing some HARDCORE cleaning, so hopefully that gives me a good start!

Last year, I prepared the traditional Southern New Year's meal of collard green and black-eyed peas. This year, the BF has graciously offered to handle the cooking, and is also making a ham! It's a great year already!

Don't worry, though - that doesn't mean that IBICF will become a health nut blog; I firmly believe that you can eat better, and still eat DELICIOUS. If you want to see for yourself, check out classes at Nutrition Degree Online and see how easy healthy eating is. I also believe that you don't have to eat super healthy 100% of the time. I like to go with an 80/20 approach. If I eat well 80% of the time, I feel no guilt for the 20% of the time that I want to splurge and indulge. 

Like today. The collards and black-eyed peas (not these hacks) are actually pretty healthy; low-GI, full of fiber and vitamins. The ham? Probably not the healthiest choice, but at least it's a true Southern (read: country) ham, and not one of those gooey, maple/honey/sugar crusted/glazed atrocities that, in my opinion, does little more than mask the flavor of the ham. 

Hams are really, REALLY easy to prepare. All of our local markets had hams on sale for Christmas, so we racked up on the savings. Last week, the BF prepared a shank ham, saving the precious bone for the collards and black-eyed peas. This time, we went with a butt ham. The shank end of the ham comes from the lower portion of the leg; it has a pointed or tapered end. The butt end comes from the upper thigh, and has a rounded end. 

We have this print; it just need framing....

The USDA recognizes several categories of hams: Fresh hams are uncured hind legs. City hams are typically sweeter than the salty country ham. Standard hams (shank and butt) come from the hind leg, where "picnic" hams come from the shoulder. Country ham is salt-cured for 1-3 months, before being hardwood smoked and aged for 2-3 years. 

The ham we chose is a Smithfield ham; more than just a brand name, a Smithfield ham is a specific country ham, which hails from Smithfield, in Isle of Wight County in the Hampton Roads region of Virginia. Per a state statute, "Genuine Smithfield hams are hereby defined to be hams processed, treated, smoked, aged, cured by the long-cure dry-salt method of cure; and, aged for a minimum period of six months; such six-month period to commence when the green pork cut is first introduced to dry salt, all such salting, processing, treating, smoking, curing and aging to be done within the corporate limits of the town of Smithfield, Virginia."

This is a 7-lb butt (huhhuhuhuhuhuhuh, you said 'butt') ham.

Pat your ham dry, score the outer fat layer with a sharp knife, and let rest at room temperature for about 30 minutes. 

Add 1 cup of cooking broth (chicken or vegetable), then cover tightly with foil. 

Bake the ham in a 350-degree oven. The general rule is 20 minutes for every pound of meat. For this ham, that means 140 minutes, or 2 hours and 20 minutes. Remove the foil when you have 35 minutes left to cook. 

Save those pan drippings, too! Let them cool or chill, scrape the congealed fat off, and save this flavor nectar for future soups, beans or greens! We typically freeze the juices in 1/4 cup increments in a muffin tin and then pop out the pucks and keep them in plastic bags. 

Let the ham rest and cool before slicing and serving. 


  1. My mother is here this weekend and she brought New Year's soup - it has everything in it - collards, b.e. peas, ham, potatoes and even polish sausage. I think I prefer it all separate on a plate, though! LOL - your ham looks fabulous - Hope you can get back in shape soon!!

  2. Sounds yummy!!

    This ham turned out absolutely AMAZING; the butt is definitely the way to go (over the shank)! I can't wait for leftover sandwiches!

    Happy New Year!

  3. Your meal looks delicious! I used a pork butt for barbecue pork this year. Also delicious. Best of luck on your resolutions. I especially like the de-clutter resolution. I'm doing the same thing.

  4. Sounds good, Michael! I've already started the decluttering process; thankfully Target had some large plastic bins on sale, so now I can contain all of my kitchen overflow (pots/pans/implements, not food!).

    Good luck on your resolutions as well!