Amount to buy: If you’re serving ham as a main course, you’ll need about 1/3 to 1/2 of a pound per person for bone-in hams. For boneless ham, buy 1/4 to 1/3 a pound per person.
Buy bone-in ham. Yes, the bone is a little more work to cut around, but the meat is more flavorful and the hambone can be used to flavor soups and stews.
Check the label. Hams can be artificially plumped up with water or solutions, but this dilutes the flavor, so look for one with no added water or juices. The label should just read “ham” — not Ham, water added or Ham with natural juices.
Shank end or butt end? Hams can weigh up to 15 pounds, so they are usually cut into two pieces and sold separately. The butt end is leaner but has trickier bones to deal with when slicing, while the shank end is fattier and only has one long, straight bone.
Whole or spiral-cut? While a whole ham will remain moister than one that’s pre-cut, a properly cooked spiral-cut ham is very convenient since it’s already cut into thin slices that just need to be cut away from the bone. The choice is really up to you — while spiral-cut is much easier, if you want to have big chunks of ham, go with a whole.
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