How to Boil Brisket and Ham


Beef brisket and ham are two fine examples of meats that were originally packed in salt to preserve them, and are still made today because their rich, salty flavors are part of the country's culinary heritage. Modern hams can usually be eaten without advance preparation, but some -- especially dry-cured "country" hams -- are still too salty to be palatable. Like corned brisket, they must be simmered before use to remove the excess salt.

Things You'll Need

  • Large pot
  • Fork
  • Tongs or carving forks
  • Serving Tray
  • Pre-soak your brisket or ham if recommended by the producer. Usually this requires six to 12 hours in cold, fresh water for a brisket, or 12 to 24 hours for a country ham. Keep the meat refrigerated as it soaks.

  • Place the ham or brisket in a large pot, and cover it with more cold, fresh water. Bring the pot slowly to a simmer over moderate heat. When the water is agitated but not quite at a boil, you've arrived at the correct temperature. Reduce the heat and adjust it as necessary to maintain a consistent temperature during the cooking time.

  • Simmer a country ham for 20 to 25 minutes per pound, or a brisket until it's tender enough to easily twist off a portion with your fork. This can take four hours or longer, depending on the size of your brisket. Conventional or "city" hams are ready when a test slice is palatable and not overly salty.

  • Use tongs or carving forks to remove the ham or brisket from your pot, and transfer it to a serving tray. Don't discard the cooking liquid, which can make a flavorful broth for soup or for boiling vegetables. Allow the ham or brisket to rest for at least 20 minutes before slicing it, for the best texture.

Tips & Warnings

  • Corned brisket slices best if it's permitted to cool completely, which allows the flesh time to become firm and compact. If you like your sandwiches warm, slice the meat first and then reheat it gently in a steamer or microwave.
  • Boiled hams can be served as soon as the resting period is finished. Alternatively, cover the ham with your choice of glaze and bake it for 15 to 20 minutes to set and caramelize the glaze.
  • Don't bring your pot to a boil and then lower the ham or brisket into the water. There's a strong risk you'll overflow the pot or splash boiling water, which can seriously injure the unwary cook or nearby pets and children.

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