I've searched and read the HC board regarding hams, and realize that I'm just not sure what kind of ham I am looking for. We've served ham at gatherings before, but always end up disappointed- either in taste, texture or appearance. I would really appreciate your answers to some specific questions. We want to do a relaxed American Christmas Day meal for about 10 people after our thoroughly hectic Italian Christmas Eve fish meal for 25 on the eve. So we have settled on serving a glazed baked ham as the main dish. We are looking for a ham that is tender, meaty and high quality. We'd like to use a sweet homemade glaze, and possibly a complimentary sweet sauce on the side, as well (would love to see recipe suggestions!). I have been on sites like Smithfield, Nueske, Edwards and others, and keep coming back to the same questions:
What is the difference between a Country Ham, a Smoked Ham, a "genuine" Virginia Ham, etc. etc.? Also, what is the benefit/flavor difference of an aged ham? I am pretty sure I want a bone-in version, and I don't mind having to cook the ham rather than simply heat it. In fact, we are hoping to do the old-fashioned criss-crossing of the skin... maybe even pineapple rings, too.
Finally, I would love to know if anyone has any advice re: slicing the ham... how thin/thick for the best flavor? Which direction? At the risk of sounding as though Ive never eaten ham before (I have), I ask these questions in the hopes of getting it right this time. Thanks so much.