Boiled ham and cabbage is the epitome of a "cook once, eat twice" -- or even three times -- meal. Ham comes from the leg of a pig, and because that part of the animal moves daily, and is therefore exercised a lot, ham is lower in fat than you might think. Sometimes known as a Boston boiled dinner, the availability of ham and cabbage today make it an easy meal for busy home cooks to prepare.
Place the ham in a Dutch oven and cover with cold water until the ham is completely submerged by about 2 to 3 inches of water.
Place the Dutch oven on a stovetop and turn the temperature to high. Once the water has reached a rolling boil, reduce the heat to medium-high and boil steadily for 5 to 10 minutes.
Turn off the heat and drain the water from the ham, allowing the ham to fall gently into a colander. Draining the water away reduces the sodium content, making the dinner more heart-healthy and nutritious.
Return the boiled ham to the Dutch oven and cover with fresh, cold water until the ham is submerged by 3 inches of water.
Add desired herbs, spices and pepper to the water. Caraway seeds, onion powder, bay leaves and a pinch of sugar are complementary flavors. If you don't want the spices and herbs to cling to the meat and cabbage upon removal, consider placing the herbs in the center of a small piece of cheesecloth and tie the cloth tightly with white string suitable for cooking. Once the cheesecloth bag is tied, drop it into the water to impart the complex flavors of the herbs. Cover the pot firmly with the lid.
Return the pot to the stovetop burner, turn the heat to high and bring the water to a full boil. Once it reaches a rolling boil, reduce the heat to medium and boil gently for 30 minutes per pound. The USDA recommends cooking pork to a safe internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit. A meat thermometer will alert you to when the ham has reached the stage for safe consumption.
Check the water level occasionally to ensure the water doesn't boil away completely. Add more water as necessary.
Place a cleaned head of cabbage on a cutting board. Cut away the core. With a sharp chef's knife, cut the cabbage in half and then in quarters. Take each quarter and slice the cabbage in 1/4-inch strips.
Fit sliced cabbage around the ham during the last half hour of cooking and return the lid. Cook cabbage for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the vegetable is soft. Consider adding quartered onions and potatoes and chopped carrots to the ham and cabbage dinner to create an even heartier meal. Add the vegetables at the same time you add the cabbage and cook until fork-tender.
Lift the ham from the water and place on a serving platter. Surround it with cabbage and serve.
The USDA recommends allowing the ham to rest for at least 3 minutes.
Boiled ham and cabbage is a Sunday night feast that can become the basis of a soup or hash later in the week. Ham slices also make excellent meat for sandwiches.
Ham should be eaten with 3 to 5 days of cooking to ensure safe consumption.