All Things Ham!

The Easter holiday is right around the corner, and people traditionally cook a big, bone-in ham for their family gatherings. And for good reason – ham is a delicious, easy to prepare main course.

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Where does a ham come from?

The ham comes from the hind leg of a hog, and this term is actually very broad. The ham of the hog starts at the rump and ends at the shank (ankle). In our shop, “ham” or “smoked ham” refers to a cured and smoked ham. If you have a custom hog processed, a “fresh ham” would be a raw (uncured, not smoked) ham cut.

Is my ham fully cooked?

In our retail store, yes! The hams we carry are double smoked, fully cooked hams. This means that the ham was fully cooked in the smoking process, so it only needs to be reheated to a temperature around 120-140*.

How much ham do I need?

Our recommendation is to plan for a ½ to ¾ of a pound per guest. And you know what always helps the week after a holiday? Leftovers! Plan for a little extra to make sandwiches and easy breakfasts in the coming days. This infographic will help you determine how much you need:

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How should I cook my ham?

We recommend 12-15 minutes per pound at an oven temperature of 350*, until the ham reaches an internal temperature of 140*. Apply the glaze during the last 15 minutes of cooking. If oven space is limited, break out your slow cooker. This is a perfectly acceptable option.                                                                                 

Do you cook a ham covered or uncovered?

Covered! Because hams are cooked over a long period of time, moisture evaporates if they are left uncovered.

 Why just bone-in hams? What about spiral sliced?

The bone provides a tremendous amount of flavor. While it can be a little more work to carve around the bone, it is definitely worth it. Then, use that hambone for soup! We don’t carry spiral sliced hams because they tend to dry out during cooking. While convenient, the taste from an unsliced ham is second to none.

 Do I need to glaze?

A sticky, sweet or spicy glaze is an awesome accessory to a salty, bone-in ham. And glazes don’t need to be very involved to pack a big punch. A simple, 3-ingredient glaze made up of sweeteners and spices will do the trick. Some great options can be found here.

How should I store ground beef?

So, you’ve visited your favorite meat counter and picked up a couple pounds of fresh ground beef! Or you stocked up and purchased 25 pounds of frozen ground beef to have on hand for simple meal making. Awesome – ground beef is simple to prepare and full of nutrition. Don’t let that stuff go to waste by improperly storing it!

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Fresh Ground Beef                                                                                         

If you purchased fresh ground beef out of the meat case, keep it refrigerated! Get it into the refrigerator as soon as possible after purchase. Your refrigerator should run at 40*F or less to preserve freshness of all foods and slow bacterial growth. Plan to use that ground beef within one or two days.

Frozen Ground Beef

Ground beef that you plan to store in your freezer should be appropriately wrapped:

-          Freezer paper

-          Plastic bags made for freezing

-          Aluminum foil

While this ground beef can be stored for a very, very long time in the freezer, it DOES loose quality over time. We recommend storing ground beef around 6 months. That being said, ALWAYS mark your ground beef with the date of freezing so you can keep track of storage times.

Thawed Ground Beef

The safest way to thaw ground beef is in the refrigerator. Keeping it cold while defrosting prevents the growth of bacteria. Sometimes, people will defrost in the microwave or even in cold water. To do this, you need to first seal the ground beef in a water tight plastic bag. Rule of thumb: after you thaw ground beef, thaw or refreeze after one or two days.

Cooked Ground Beef

Ground beef should be refrigerated quickly after cooking – within 2 hours or 1 hour is the temperature is above 90*. Keep this product in the refrigerator for around 4 days OR store cooked ground beef in the freezer for 4 months. Just make sure that when you reheat any of this, that the internal temperature reaches 165*.

See - simple! How do you keep your house stocked with ground beef?

The One About Ground Beef

Ground beef offers quick, easy and delicious options for any meal and for any occasion. We love it for it's versatility, ease of cooking, and major nutritional value. Ground beef provides 10 essential nutrients including protein, zinc, iron and many B vitamins. This high nutritional value, combined with it's texture and small crumble size, ground beef is an ideal food to give to small children or elderly adults.

It can be grilled, baked, broiled, braised or fried in the skillet. Ground beef is truly a jack of all trades! Some of our very favorite ground beef recipes can be found here.

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Here at Oak Meadow Meats, we grind our ground beef in house, from whole muscle cuts. This gives the meat a rich flavor and dependably consistency.

Traditionally, this cut comes in a range of lean to fat ratios:

70% LEAN

Ground Beef that is not less than 70% lean (usually a 73/27 or 75/25 lean-to-fat ratio) is used for burgers and in recipes calling for browning (crumbles) and pouring off drippings, such as chili, tacos and spaghetti sauce. When properly cooked, it is moist and juicy.

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80-85% LEAN

A mid-range lean-to-fat ratio is a nice option for dishes like meatloaf and meatballs, where you’ll be forming a ball or loaf, but you’ll be cooking in a pan or skillet. In addition, 80-85% lean is perfect for making delicious burgers! This ratio is also good to use when draining fat won't be an issue. When properly cooked, it is moist and juicy and has a slightly firm texture.

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93% LEAN

Ground Beef that is 93% lean or leaner meets government guidelines for “lean.” If you’re trying to choose lean meats, this is an excellent choice for you. It works well in dishes that require crumbles, like meat sauce, tacos, stuffed peppers or casseroles where draining fat might be difficult.

We carry 85% and 93% lean ground beef. In our experience, they are the two most versatile and desirable.

A meat thermometer is the BEST way to check beef’s temperature. Ground beef should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160F. Color is not a reliable indicator of ground beef doneness. Cooking ground beef to 160F will protect your family against food borne illness, and is especially important when preparing for young children, elderly adults or those with compromised immune systems.

What’s your favorite way to use ground beef? Any cooking or storage hacks we should know about?

How many pounds do I need?!

Whether you're hosting extended relatives or gathering a few close friends, you're likely going to be serving a protein based main dish. A question we get time and time again is "how many pounds of xyz should I buy?" ... and I get it! It feels impossible to estimate how much your guests will eat, and in turn, how much meat to purchase for your meal.

The two most popular products we carry for the holiday season are double smoked, bone-in hams and boneless, USDA Choice prime rib roasts. So, while I'll talk specifically to those products today, these tips can carry over to many different cuts of meat.

First and foremost, there are a few numbers you'll need to nail down:

  • How many guests will you have?

  • How many guests are children or elderly?

  • How many guests are teenagers? 😂

If many guests are children or elderly, you can scale the estimate back a bit. BUT if they're teenagers, I'd bump it up. Do you know the kind of damage a 16 year old boy can do to a prime rib? It ain't pretty.

We typically recommend 1/2 to 3/4 of a pound per person for hams or prime rib roast. Then, add a couple extra pounds for good measure.

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Generally, I tell customers to err on the high side. This way, if another guest decides to come, you'll be well prepared for them. And who doesn't love leftovers for the next day's lunch? Especially if you're hosting overnight guests. Ham is delicious in egg bake and prime rib sandwiches are delicious!

As always, reach out to us if you need help. We love to hear from you!

3 Tips for Practical Gift Giving

Each year, so many of us stress over what to buy those on our holiday list. It can be a major headache to shop for people who have everything!

                       

1.    Experience Over Stuff
I don’t know about you, but our closets are BURSTING at the seams. So this holiday season, be considerate of everyone else’s closets! Treat a family to water park fun or movie theater passes. Consider a trip to the zoo with the kids for grandparents. Memories made will last so much longer than the “latest and greatest” toy or gadget.

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2.    Think Consumable
What’s more practical than food or drink gifts?! Specialty food stores are pros at holiday gift giving. And liquor stores will often have gift sets available. And the best part is food and drinks are the most usable gifts you can give. It is so fun for people to open a box of meat and cheese that they normally wouldn’t have purchased for themselves. Or for a family to enjoy delicious steaks together. And you know what makes a busy parent really smile? Coffee. All the coffee.

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3.    When In Doubt …
If your recipient is truly difficult to shop for (and we all have one of those, don’t we …), consider a gift certificate. Gift certificates to big box stores and online giants can seem a little insincere, but local restaurants and shops send a warmer vibe. The feelings experienced from browsing a local boutique, picking out something delicious at your favorite meat market, or eating a special meal at a restaurant in town are hard to replicate. And we’ve all seen those posters that describe how dollars spent in locally owned businesses benefit families and the neighborhoods in which they do business; ultimately spreading holiday cheer in the communities that we live.

 

Ultimately, holiday gifts should be fun and exciting, and really make the recipient feel appreciated!