Cooking Fail – Canned Ham 2: Exploding Ham

100% can

With my wife out of town for work, I thought it was the perfect time for a second pass at a recipe from the Western Dubuque Marching Band Cook Book – canned ham. The first time, I had to modify the recipe because the ham came in a plastic tub. This time, I found I canned ham wthat was all can.

ham hieroglyphics

1. Modify the recipe: the original recipe calls for a 3-5 pound ham. The biggest ham I could find in a full can was a 1lb ham. So, I would need to reduce the amount of barbecue sauce and maple syrup. But that was not until later on.

2. Pierce the can: the first step in the recipe is to put 4-5 holes around the sides of the can using a can opener.

air holes in the can

3. Bake: 325 for an hour.

4. Check the oven: about 45 minutes into the first bake, just as I was wondering about the prudence of subjecting a can to heat (even if it did have 4-5 air holes in it) I heard an explosion. Well, not an explosion. It was more like someone threw a basketball at the oven door. I turned off the heat and opened the oven.


There was ham everywhere. My biggest fear was that the can had exploded. Fortuntately, that was not the case. But, it did seem that steam from within the ham had forcibly ejected the meat out of the can. Extrusion, was the word I kept whispering to myself.

I discovered that the loud bang I had heard was a large quantity of extruded ham being projectiled at the over door. It then slid to the oven floor. It was gross – pretty much what you’d expect from ham being forced through a small hole at a high rate of speed and temperature.

extruded ham

5. Clean up: I let everything cool so that I could clean out the oven and clean off the baking tray that I had used to attempt to collect any ham can drippings. At first, the can seemed stuck to the can. When I finally did get it off, you could see the outline of where the can was baked. And I swear I can see Jesus in it.

jesus on a baking sheet

6. Open the can: once the can cooled enough, I popped the top. Although all plans to follow the Western Dubuque Marching Band Cookbook recipe were out the window (or rather, on the oven floor), I had to eat. And I have a rule that I must at least sample anything I cook.
Opening up the can was much like opening a can of spam or dog food. And even though it totally didn’t, I kept thinking that it smelled like tuna fish.

opening the ham

With the top now open, I could see the ham in all its glory. For some reason, it reminded of the Canyon of the Crescent Moon from Indiana Jones


Cutting through this ham was odd. The meat is really spongy, but not unlike the last time I tried to make canned ham. I tried to get out all of the ham from the can. But some of it near the air holes just wasn’t ever going to release.

ham in the air holes

7. Eat: To go with this canned ham, I thought I would eat canned beans. Because canned beans just seems to make sense with canned ham. I bought these particular beans the last time I was at Wal-Mart, and I picked them up for no other reason than the fact that they were only 50 cents.

50 cent beans

The beans were really gross. Worth every penny. And not a single penny more. For some reason, I thought they would come in a darker, thicker, more sugary sauce, like baked beans. But they weren’t. At one point, I ate something that I think was supposed to be a piece of bacon. But it tasted like chicken gristle.

canned ham and beans

The ham wasn’t much better. It tasted like meat that comes in a can and doesn’t need to be refrigerated, which is precisely what it was. I was hoping that, at a minimum, the parts adjacent to the can walls would have developed some sort of crust, but they didn’t. And the whole thing was mushy and spongy in an uncomfortable way. Nevertheless, I did eat half the can in a single sitting (and plan on eating the other half for dinner tomorrow).
But, I don’t think I will be making a third attempt at canned ham.

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Filed under cookingFail, WD Marching Band

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