My informant for this story is my friend’s grandmother.
My friend’s grandmother is a great cook. She would often cook for us and going over to her house for a meal was one of my favorite things to do. She would cook many different things. On special occasions, she would cook a large ham, if there were going to be enough people there to eat it. Almost every time she would cook a ham, either she or someone else in the family would remind her or ask her if she had cut the end off of the ham before cooking it. This was sort of a running joke and I never thought much of it until after one meal, she was discussing the origin of the saying. She had said that her husband’s mother, who taught her many of the recipes she still practices, had always told her to cut the end off the ham prior to cooking it.
It was years later before she realized that the reason they always said this was because they never had a pan big enough to accommodate cooking a ham with the end intact. To this day, she laughs about this, having not known the reason for so many years. She also mentioned it so many times to my friend and to me that I often think about this anytime I have ham or on holidays or other special occasions where a ham is being cooked.