The Complete Guide to Boiling Corned Ham: Times, Tips, and Tricks

Corned ham is a delicious cured and brined meat that’s perfect for holidays, special occasions, or anytime you’re craving its signature salty-sweet flavor. But boiling this specialty ham requires some special care to ensure it turns out juicy, tender and full of flavor.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk through everything you need to know to boil corned ham like a pro, from start to finish.

What is Corned Ham?

Corned ham gets its name from the curing process used to preserve and flavor the meat. It’s cured with large-grained rock salt, also called “corns” of salt, along with other seasoning like brown sugar, spices, and nitrates.

This gives corned ham its signature salty-sweet taste and pink color. The curing also tenderizes the meat while extending its shelf life.

Compared to a traditional baked ham corned ham has a firmer texture and more pronounced ham flavor. Its flavor pairs especially well with classic side dishes like cabbage potatoes, mustard, and horseradish sauce.

How Long to Boil Corned Ham

The most important factor in determining how long to boil corned ham is its size and weight

As a general guideline, you should boil corned ham for 20-30 minutes per pound.

So for a 5 lb corned ham, boil for 100 to 150 minutes (1 hr 40 mins to 2 hrs 30 mins).

For a 10 lb ham, you’ll want to boil for 200 to 300 minutes (3 hrs 20 mins to 5 hours).

This low and slow boiling is what allows the meat to become tender and absorb the flavors of the curing brine.

Step-by-Step Guide to Boiling Corned Ham

Follow these simple steps for perfectly cooked corned ham every time:

1. Rinse and Soak

Rinse the corned ham under cool running water to remove any excess salt and impurities from the surface.

You can also soak the ham for 6-12 hours in the fridge to help draw out some of the salt if you want a less salty flavor. Change the water every few hours.

2. Add to Pot & Cover with Water

Place the corned ham in a large pot or Dutch oven and add enough cold water to just cover the meat.

Don’t overcrowd the pot – you want the water to circulate freely around the ham.

3. Bring to a Boil Then Simmer

Heat the pot over high heat until the water begins boiling rapidly. Then reduce heat to low, cover, and let the ham simmer gently for the recommended time based on its size.

4. Add Flavorings (Optional)

For extra flavor, you can add aromatics and seasonings like onions, garlic, bay leaves, cloves, allspice berries, black peppercorns, or fresh herbs.

Allow them to simmer with the ham to infuse their flavors.

5. Check Internal Temp

Test for doneness by using a meat thermometer to check the ham’s internal temperature.

It’s done when the thermometer reads 140°F at the ham’s thickest part.

6. Transfer & Allow to Rest

Carefully transfer the cooked ham to a cutting board and tent loosely with foil.

Let rest for 15-20 minutes before carving so juices can redistribute.

And that’s it! With these simple steps you’ll have a tender, juicy corned ham ready to slice and serve.

Tips for the Best Boiled Ham

  • For added flavor, try using chicken or vegetable broth instead of water. Or add a cup of ginger ale or root beer.

  • Wrap the corned ham in cheesecloth to keep the meat from falling apart as it cooks.

  • Add whole cloves, peppercorns, allspice, cinnamon, or star anise to the cooking liquid.

  • Glaze the cooked ham with a mixture of brown sugar, honey, and mustard.

  • Wrap leftovers well and store in fridge for up to 4-5 days.

How to Tell When Corned Ham is Done

Since corned ham is a large cut of meat, it can be tricky to tell exactly when it’s reached the proper internal temperature while boiling.

Here are a few easy ways to test for doneness:

  • Use an instant-read thermometer – it should read 140°F at the thickest part.

  • Check that the meat has pulled back from the bone, if it has one.

  • Insert a fork or knife into the ham – it should slide in and out without resistance when done.

  • Look for the meat shrinking back slightly from the edges of the pot or cheesecloth.

  • When fully cooked, the ham will have a uniform pink color throughout the meat.

If you’re unsure, boil a bit longer to be safe. Just take care not to overcook, or the ham can become dry.

Serving and Leftover Ideas

Once boiled to tender perfection, corned ham makes for fantastic meals and leftovers. Here are some delicious ways to serve it up:

  • Sliced corned ham with classic sides like mashed potatoes, roasted vegetables, and rolls.

  • Pile corned ham onto sandwiches with Swiss cheese, mustard and pickles.

  • Dice and add to soups like split pea, bean or potato soup.

  • Chop corned ham and mix into hash browns for breakfast.

  • Fold into an omelette or scrambled eggs.

  • Toss with your favorite pasta and veggies for a hearty pasta dish.

With proper boiling technique, you can enjoy the unique flavor of corned ham for many meals to come. Now go forth and boil!

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the difference between corned ham and a regular smoked ham?

Corned ham is cured and preserved using a salt and sugar brine solution. Regular hams are preserved through smoking. Corned ham also has a firmer texture and more pungent “hammy” flavor.

Can I cook a corned ham in the oven or slow cooker instead?

Absolutely! You can roast corned ham in the oven at 325°F until it reaches the 140°F internal temperature.

How long does it take to boil corned beef?

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