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A partially boned ham is a ham from which some of the bones have been removed, leaving a single bone behind in the meat. There are some advantages to using a partially boned ham; it tends to cook more quickly than a boneless ham, for example, and it has more flavor. It is also easier to carve than a traditional bone-in ham, which retains all of the bones the pig was born with. You may also hear this cut referred to as a semi-boneless ham.
Many butchers offer partially boned ham, or are able to produce such hams for customers by special request. At markets with a meat counter, partially boned ham is commonly on offer, and specialty producers who focus on making various styles of ham also tend to make partially boned ham, for consumers who want it.
When a partially boned ham is produced, the hip and shank bones are removed from the leg. These bones tend to make ham difficult to carve, and they are also bulky and cumbersome to work with. By removing these bones, the producer substantially lightens the ham, making it easier to handle and more affordable, since meat is typically sold by the pound. For consumers, partially boned ham is easier to cook and carve than boned ham.
Including bone in cuts of meat has a dramatic impact on their flavor, and this is why a bone is left in partially boned ham, rather than being removed to make a boneless ham. Bones make meat more flavorful, creating complex layers of flavor which are brought out through long, slow cooking. Boned cuts can also be more tender and juicy, two traits which many people actively seek in their meat. Once a partially boned ham has been carved, the bone can be used in soup, stock, or stew to extract the last of the remaining flavor.
When picking out a partially boned ham, it is important to consider the cure which was used to prepare the ham, as this will influence the way in which the meat is prepared. Traditionally salted hams, for example, need to be soaked in several changes of water before being cooked, while brine cured hams can simply be roasted for several hours and glazed with juice or a sauce to make them flavorful and moist. Partially smoked or smoked hams will also need to be handled differently. If you aren't sure about how a ham should be cooked, ask when you purchase it, to ensure that you will get the most out of the meat.