As nice as city hams are, they lack the flavour I want in a ham. Country hams are hard to find these days. I settle instead on a smoked pork picnic shoulder. It doesn’t quite bring back the wonderful country hams my uncle served when we showed up in Siklós. Jenő bácsi went to the kamra and would bring out a magnificent fully smoked ham and started to slice off pieces with his bicska [pocket knife]. Then Irmuska néni’s fress vekni [bread loaf] was brought to the table, which looked similar to the sourdough bread I make, except hers was baked in a kemence [wood fire earth oven]. If you ever tasted fully smoked, well aged country ham and sourdough bread baked in a wood fire earth oven… you will never forget it. Many decades have past since, but the memory of it still lingers.

Smoked pork shoulder is processed just like a ham and can be prepared in similar ways. It is less expensive and a little fattier and can range from 2.5 kg to 4 kg [five to roughly 9 pounds]. Mine was 3.70 kg. The hams in North America are prepared glazed and fancied up with pineapple and cloves. I don’t bother with it, because glazing and decorating the ham does not alter the flavour dramatically. But if you want a fancied up ham, just cut off the skin and trim the fat off half an hour before the ham is done. Score it up to the meat, glaze it and when the ham is finished baking, arrange pineapple slices and cloves on the top and then bake it for an additional 25 minutes. Scroll down for the ingredients if you want a decorated ham. 

 3-1/2-4 kg Smoked Pork Picnic Shoulder, smoked but not cooked 

• Preheat oven to 350F. 
• Place the whole pork shoulder package in a deep roasting pan. 
• Carefully cut the outer plastic packaging and remove it entirely. 
• Leave the netting on the meat; do not remove it at this time. 
• Place the meat skin side up in the pan. 
• Put the lid on the roasting pan and place it in the oven. 
• The ham should cook about 22 minutes per pound of weight or until the meat thermometer registers 170F. • My 3.7 kg ham took 4.5 hours to reach 170F. 
• During the last half hour, take out the ham [be careful it’s hot] and place it on a tray. 
• With a pair of kitchen shears carefully cut away the netting and discard. 

For an Undecorated Ham: 
• At this point crosscut the skin through the fat layer. 
• Stick the meat thermometer in the ham at the thickest part, but not touching the bone. 
• Return the ham to the roasting pan and place in the oven uncovered and roast until the temperature reaches 170F. 
• Remove from oven, cover and let the ham rest for 15 minutes before carving. 

For a Decorated Ham: 
• Or if you want a decorated ham, using tongs and a knife, carefully remove the layer of skin and most of the fat layer from the ham. 
• Make the glaze: combine the 1/2 cup brown sugar and 2 Tbsp mustard. 
 • Brush half of the glaze over the entire ham. 
• Return the ham to the roasting pan and place in the oven uncovered and roast until the temperature reaches 170F. 
• Remove the ham from the oven and remove the meat thermometer 
• With a sharp knife score the meat about every inch and about 1/2 inch deep. Basically you crosscut the again. 
• If using cloves, place one clove in each of the squares made from the cuts. 
• Use toothpicks to attach one can of drained pineapple slices to the ham and drizzle the remaining glaze on top. 
• Return the meat to the oven, uncovered and bake for about 25 minutes longer. 
• Remove from oven, cover and let the ham rest for 15 minutes before carving. 

For a decorated ham you will also need: 
1/2 cup brown sugar 
2 Tbsp mustard 
1 can of sliced pineapple 
whole cloves [optional]

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It began with posting a few recipes on line for the family. "zsuzsa is in the kitchen" has more than 1000 Hungarian and International recipes. What started out as a private project turned into a well visited blog. The number of visitors long passed the two million mark. I organized the recipes into an on-line cookbook. On top of the page click on "ZSUZSA'S COOKBOOK". From there click on any of the chapters to access the recipes. For the archive just scroll to the bottom of the page. I am not profiting from my blog, so visitors are not harassed with advertising or flashy gadgets. The recipes are not broken up with photos at every step. Where needed the photos are placed following the recipe. Feel free to cut and paste my recipes for your own use. Publication is permitted as long as it is in your own words and with your own photographs. However, I would ask you for an acknowledgement and link-back to my blog. Happy cooking!