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What is Boneless Ham?

Boneless hams are easier to slice and cook than bone-in varieties.
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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 11 October 2014
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A boneless ham can refer to several different cuts of pork that contain no bone because it has been removed. On some occasions, a boneless ham may also be a small piece of ham, usually packaged in a can, which is too small a cut to contain part of any of the ham bones. Deboning a ham is a common practice, though, meant to provide an easier means to slice ham and to ensure even temperature when baking.

Boneless ham can be taken from ham hock or shoulder meat. A few hams are semi boneless ham and still feature a small leg bone. Some prefer this style since leaving the bone in will give a richer flavor to the ham, and the small leg bone is infinitely easier to slice than trying to slice around the upper portion of the hock or shoulder bone. Ham purists may insist on bone-in ham with the larger bones, rather than a boneless ham, simply because the flavor of the ham will be richer.

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On occasion, a boneless ham is not a continuous cut of meat but is instead reformed from pieces of meat. This may also be called a ham roll and is often seen in deli meats. The reforming allows for this type of boneless ham to contain some marbling of fat which increases flavor, or to trim fat so that the ham is lower in calories. It also makes good sense when you’re using meat slicers, since cutting through a ham bone is not easy work. Reformed boneless ham may also be found in large canned hams.

Ham is actually one of the easier meats to slice when cooked, but the ham bone can prove challenging. You can debone the ham after baking it, but this too is often difficult to do, especially when you wish to serve the ham hot.

The easiest way, since the bone is usually dead center, is to slice the top meat in thin slices, and then turn the ham over to repeat on the bottom. You can also avoid this issue by purchasing boneless spiral sliced ham, though again the taste may be inferior to a ham that still contains bones.

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Charlie89
Post 3

I actually prefer a boneless ham -- besides the convenience, I actually can't tell the difference in the flavor between a smoked boneless ham and a regular smoked ham, so it's not like the bone makes that much of a difference to me.

Of course, I use my signature boneless ham chili glaze, which kicks up the flavor a little bit. It's really easy to make -- all you have to do is combine about 3/4 of a cup of chili sauce with a teaspoon of chili powder and a little vegetable oil -- try it out sometime, you might find out that you like it!

LittleMan
Post 2

I like boneless ham, but only "real" boneless ham, not the reformed kinds. If I can get it, I of course prefer a bone in ham, but boneless works well for those times when I need a large meal but don't really feel like cooking, like at family reunions.

Besides, it can be kind of hard to tell when a bone in ham is done, especially in the middle, since meat towards the bone tends to take longer to cook -- and there'e nothing worse than starting to carve your ham and then realizing that it's not done in the middle.

So on the whole, I think that a good boneless ham can be an acceptable replacement for a smoked ham, especially for recipes that don't take a lot of work to begin with, like slow cooker boneless ham.

What's you guys' take on the great ham bone debate?

CopperPipe
Post 1

I think that boneless ham certainly has it's place, even if it doesn't taste as good as bone in ham.

It's definitely much easier to carve, and can even be easier to cook, especially since you can get a fully cooked boneless ham pretty easily, so all you have to do is reheat it.

And with the proper glaze, you can get a pretty good taste out of a boneless smoked ham, almost as good as you would out of a bone in ham.

It all comes down to convenience, I guess -- and whether you're willing to sacrifice that delicious rich ham taste.

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