The typical holiday ham is fully cooked, cured, smoked, and often pre-sliced when you purchase it at your local grocery store. These prepared hams are holiday favorites because they are delicious and so easy to prepare.
However, pre-cooked hams often pack loads of sodium. Even reduced-sodium ham is just too high in sodium for us to use as a main dish.That's why we at Cooking Light prefer fresh hams. Plus, we also just love fresh ham; it's a great cut to cook, so rich with a very deep porky flavor.
If you opt for a raw ham, too, you'll have to put in a little more work when time comes to cook it. You can simple season and roast the ham much like how you would prepare a turkey. Unlike with a cured and smoked ham, you have to cook a raw ham from scratch up to a food-safe temperature (again, like a turkey). Also, you can go through the process of curing the ham yourself with a salt mixture, but it is not necessary.
The finished temperature you want for a cooked ham is between 145° and 160°. The higher the ham cooks above 145°, the drier the ham will be. Check out our Maple-Mustard Glazed Fresh Ham recipe for a simple how-to you can use again and again. It's delicious and worthy of a special occasion.