The shank on any animal is the lower portion of the leg that contains the femur bone. This part of the pig is what is used to make hams. When it is left intact, it is called a whole ham. When it is cut, it is called the shank portion; the majority of hams sold in the United States are shank portions. More often than not, hams are sold smoked as opposed to fresh, or uncooked. When smoked, the ham shanks are cold-smoked for several days before being packaged and sold at your local butcher or grocery store. Although fully cooked, it makes sense to bake a smoked ham shank before serving.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the racks in the oven on the lowest two rungs.
Remove the ham from its packaging and pat dry with a paper towel. Fill an aluminum roasting pan with 1 or 2 cups of water, depending on the size of the ham.
Place the ham into the aluminum pan. Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil.
Place the roasting pan in the oven. Cook the ham for about 15 to 20 minutes per pound or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the smoked ham shank registers 145 F.
Remove the pan from the oven. Allow it to sit, covered, for at least 10 minutes before carving; this allows for any carryover cooking and keeps the ham from drying out when being carved.
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- Use any remaining liquid in the bottom of the roasting pan to create a gravy or pan sauce for the ham or any side dishes.
Based in Virginia Beach, Mark S. Baker has been working in editorial for more than 20 years. He has served as a writer and editor for publications such as the "Houston Post," "Boca Raton News" and "Interactive Week," among others. Baker also has a culinary arts degree from Johnson & Wales University and has his own catering business.