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Rosemary ham, which is derived from pig rump or shank, is a boneless, light pink meat that has been seasoned with the rosemary herb. To make rosemary seasoned ham, the meat is either rubbed with, smoked with, or soaked in a mix of rosemary, salt, sugar, spices, cloves and cure. Such seasoning, which may take up to a day, several weeks or even several months to do, gives this ham its trademark rosemary flavor; the flavor may be light or concentrated, depending on the time taken for the seasoning.
The cured ham may be used fresh, or it may be cooked, cooled and refrigerated for later use. Hams, depending on their preparation methods, can generally be preserved for several weeks and sometimes even up to a year. It is not ideal, however, to freeze hams long-term, as this may make the ham unappetizing; freezing breaks down the meat cell structure and thawing causes it to lose its moisture and become dry.
Hams can be used with egg dishes, as sliced meats for sandwiches, particularly in a grilled or toasted panini sandwich, and in a variety of other ways. There are many different recipes for cooking rosemary ham. Glazes or compotes are often used for cooking whole hams. Some commonly used ingredients for the glaze or compote mixes include brown sugar, Dijon mustard, garlic, ginger, peaches, ground pepper and fresh rosemary.
The ham is put on a rack, with its cut end covered with foil, and the meat is scoured lightly with a knife to make a criss-cross or diamond pattern. It is then baked in an oven at around 425 degrees Fahrenheit (218.33 degrees Celsius) for about an hour. The ham should be removed from the oven when the scoured pattern has visibly risen.
Then the glaze mix, which has been previously prepared and refrigerated, is rubbed on to or poured over the ham, and the ham is baked for another two and a half hours. After this, the foil at the cut end of the ham is removed and covered with the drippings from the pan. The rosemary ham is baked again for half an hour or so, and is then ready to be served.
While rosemary ham can be quite delicious, it is advisable to eat it in moderation. Processed meats often have a high content of saturated fat and sodium, and, if consumed in excess, can lead to cholesterol and weight problems. Another issue is a possible link between high meat consumption and cancer, as suggested by a five years research study carried out by the American Institute for Cancer Research and the World Cancer Research Fund.