Although ham is a super simple, nostalgic, and satisfying protein to prepare for your friends and family, if you’ve never bought or cooked your own ham, it can be an intimidating feat. In general, ham is available in three categories: fresh or smoked, pre-cooked or cured, and cured-and-smoked. Depending on the cut, type, and weight of ham you purchase, the cooking times of these varieties can vary significantly.
My family rarely ate pork when I was growing up. I mean it—we ate turkey bacon and chicken sausage, and I tried pork chops for the first time when I was 17 at a friend’s house for dinner. But there was one exception: Taylor ham. Taylor ham, the regional pet name for pork roll, a processed meat product manufactured by the Taylor company is more like Spam than terderloin, and is basically a salty miracle.
For those of you who, like Chicago-born me, long thought of ham and redeye gravy as something you might have heard a scruffy gent named Cookie offer up to the cowhands in an old western movie, and not actual in-real-life food, let me share the good news: It is real, and it is delicious. It's also ridiculously simple to make.
I don’t really like ham for breakfast unless it’s in loaf form. Slicing and cubing that chunk of processed pork product gives me a sense of satisfaction, similar to cutting tofu or fudge. In fact, while I loved reading Green Eggs and Ham as a kid, I sympathized with the unnamed character who wasn’t interested in the dish. Of course he didn’t like green eggs and ham—that giant cone-shaped hunk of pork looks seriously overwhelming. He’d probably need a hacksaw to get through it.