Carving a Ham: The Basics
For some, carving a ham may seem like a daunting task. However, once you get the hang of it, it isn’t all that bad. A ham is only made up of three bones: the shank at one end, the femur in the middle, and the angled bone in the butt called the aitch bone. These three bones don’t have to be intimidating, so don’t let them come between you and a beautiful, juicy bone-in ham.
Carving Whole Bone-In Ham
With different hams come different carving strategies. Let’s start with a whole bone-in ham.
Begin with the shank or lower leg to the carver’s right, steady the ham with a fork and locate the notch where the aitch bone sits. Cut through the ham alongside the aitch bone until reaching the femur (center bone). Make a similar cut on the opposite end of the ham just before the shank. Then carve out the meat between the two slices by cutting along the femur.
Place the freshly removed large chunk of ham on its flat side. Then make perpendicular slices to where the ham previously met the center bone, cutting meat across the grain for maximum tenderness.
Remove additional boneless pieces for carving by cutting along both sides of the center bone.
Carving Shank Half or Portion Ham
Begin with the thicker piece of meat on the top, use a fork to steady the ham and cut along the top of the bone to loosen the boneless meat.
Place the meat carved-side down on the cutting board and cut across the grain of the meat in perpendicular slices. Transfer slices to a serving platter.
Turn the remaining meat carved-side down and remove the large boneless sections. Place boneless sections, as they’re removed, on the cutting board and cut in perpendicular slices. By cutting perpendicular slices across the grain of the meat, you will maximize the tenderness of the ham.
Carving Butt Half or Portion Ham
Place pre-cut side of ham down on the cutting board. Carve along the bone to remove boneless section of meat.
Slice boneless section across the grain and transfer to a serving platter.
To carve the remaining meat from the bone, insert fork into meat next to bone and make horizontal slices towards the bone as shown. Transfer slices to a serving platter.
Want to watch this information in action? Check out our Youtube Playlist!
Thanks to our friends at Frick’s Quality Meats for helping us put this information together!