Sunday, January 30, 2011

Braised Smoked Ham Surprise

This is not a recipe, just an observation of braising process or more accurately put, interrupted braising process.
Late this morning I have decided to braise one of smoked hams that I bought last week on special and then remove all the fat and bones and vacuum pact it and freeze it. So, I put the ham in large pot, poured in water half way up, brought it to boil, covered, stuck a thermometer probe half way in and placed in 350°F oven. The normal braising thing, right? Well, after one hour we had to leave the house for about an hour and since I didn’t want to leave the oven on I took the temperature reading. The pot was sitting on a pizza stone that is always in my oven and infrared gun read 365°F and the meat inside was 68°F (the meat was 36°F when I stuck the probe in). When we came back one hour later I repeated measurements and while the pizza stone went down to 228°F (137°F loss) the meat gained astonishing 60°F – 128°F! When I turned the oven back on it was done at 160 °F in less then half hour. That means that even though I cooked it for 2-1/2 hours, oven was on for only 1-1/2 hour, just a bit over half the cooking time. I think that I am up to something here, don’t you think? Right now I’m braising another ham and will try to repeat the process. Why waste natural gas!
Of course, it is not a mystery at all, just simple physics. After all, even though the oven wasn’t on, the ham was still in 220°F water in a pot that was in turn surrounded by hot air and most likely boiling for a long time so the cooking of the ham continued.
I have cooked another ham (they were on special J) same way and had exactly same results. After turning off the oven and not opening the door, the temperature kept climbing by one degree a minute for full hour.

No comments: