What is a Country Ham?
Country hams are dry-cured, or rubbed down with salt and seasonings, before being slowly smoked and then aged for 4 to 36 months!
This process makes them chewy and salty. Country hams are generally favored in the southern states, probably because its intense flavor goes so well (and the saltiness off-set) with fresh biscuits. Country hams are sold both cooked and uncooked, but the bone is almost always included in a whole country ham.
A city ham, on the other hand, is the most popular variety of ham so it is generally just called “ham”. It is wet-cured which means that it was injected with a bine that includes seasonings along with salt, sugar and curing agents that help give the meat a tender juicy flavor, yet much milder than the country ham. Hams including the bone (bone-in varieties) tend to be juicier and more flavorful than those where the bone has been already removed (boneless). These hams are cooked and ready to eat, but are much tastier if the whole ham is glazed and then slowly warmed in the oven.
A third alternative is a fresh ham. A raw hind leg of pork is called a fresh ham and is generally only purchased from a butcher or specialty meat store. A fresh ham must be seasoned and cooked before consumption.