A boneless ham can refer to several different cuts of pork that contain no bone because it has been removed. On some occasions, a boneless ham may also be a small piece of ham, usually packaged in a can, which is too small a cut to contain part of any of the ham bones. Deboning a ham is a common practice, though, meant to provide an easier means to slice ham and to ensure even temperature when baking.
Boneless ham can be taken from ham hock or shoulder meat. A few hams are semi boneless ham and still feature a small leg bone. Some prefer this style since leaving the bone in will give a richer flavor to the ham, and the small leg bone is infinitely easier to slice than trying to slice around the upper portion of the hock or shoulder bone. Ham purists may insist on bone-in ham with the larger bones, rather than a boneless ham, simply because the flavor of the ham will be richer.
On occasion, a boneless ham is not a continuous cut of meat but is instead reformed from pieces of meat. This may also be called a ham roll and is often seen in deli meats. The reforming allows for this type of boneless ham to contain some marbling of fat which increases flavor, or to trim fat so that the ham is lower in calories. It also makes good sense when you’re using meat slicers, since cutting through a ham bone is not easy work. Reformed boneless ham may also be found in large canned hams.
Ham is actually one of the easier meats to slice when cooked, but the ham bone can prove challenging. You can debone the ham after baking it, but this too is often difficult to do, especially when you wish to serve the ham hot.
The easiest way, since the bone is usually dead center, is to slice the top meat in thin slices, and then turn the ham over to repeat on the bottom. You can also avoid this issue by purchasing boneless spiral sliced ham, though again the taste may be inferior to a ham that still contains bones.