Succulent ham is a traditional choice for Easter feasts in the United States. Dress them up with glazes for even more taste and moistness. Photo by: Courtesy photo
March 27, 2013 10:22:31 AM
Ham and Easter seem to go together like bread and butter. Across the country, juicy hams will be the centerpiece of many a menu Sunday, as families gather for fellowship and feasting. Cooking your own ham may seem like a colossal chore, but it's probably easier than you think, and picking up a store-bought ham that's been partially or fully cooked is a great short-cut.
If you didn't grow up at your mama's knee in the kitchen as she baked ham, today's information may come in handy. And we hope the recipes are useful to experienced cooks as well.
Bone in? Boneless?
Hams with the bone left in tend to be more flavorful than boneless hams, allrecipes.com tells us. Many bone-in brands are spiral-cut, meaning the ham has been cut in a continuous spiral all the way around the bone, producing thin slices. But remember, a bone-in ham will have less meat per pound than a boneless one. When buying bone-in, figure at least 3/4 pound for each person who will be at dinner. For boneless ham, figure at least 1/4 pound per person according to the site.
If you're not using a spiral cut, these three steps on "how to cook the perfect Easter ham," as summarized by Mary Allen Perry for Southern Living, offer some guidance.
The most traditional way to prepare a whole ham is to bake it, and you can enhance the meat by using a glaze. The most popular ones contain combinations of fruit juice, wine or whiskey, honey, mustard, brown sugar, fruit preservatives and spices. They can be store-bought, or you can concoct your own. Brush some of the glaze over the surface of the ham before placing it in the oven.
Almost all hams have been either partially or fully cooked before packaging.
A partially-cooked ham has been brought to an internal temperature of 137 degrees F., which kills any bacteria, says allrecipes.com. To make it more tender and delicious, you'll want to cook it a little bit more. A fully cooked ham has been brought to an internal temperature of 148 degrees F.
For a partially-cooked ham, allow about 20 minutes per pound in a moderate 350-degree oven. A fully cooked ham will require about 10 minutes per pound in order to be heated all the way through,
Keep it juicy
Mmm -- can't you just taste that moist, juicy ham now? To help ensure it gets to the table that way, place your ham cut-side down in a baking pan, suggests allrecipes. If it's going to be in the oven for more than an hour, you may want to place a foil "tent" on top to help keep it from drying out. Continue to brush it with glaze and baste with the pan juices every 20 minutes or so, until it's heated through.
To finish the ham and give it a yummy caramelized coating, remove the foil tent, brush with glaze and pan juices one more time, then turn your oven to the broiler setting. Allow the outside of the ham to get nice and browned; this should only take five minutes, but watch closely so it doesn't get too dark. When the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees F., it's ready to serve.
Choose a platter large enough to allow 3 to 4 inches around the ham, so you can add garnishes like apricots, pineapple, vegetables, greens or other goodies for a celebratory presentation on your Easter table.
TANGERINE-GLAZED HAM WITH BABY CARROTS
Total time: 4 hours, 20 minutes
1 (8 to 10-pound) smoked ham, bone-in, skin on
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 bunch fresh sage leaves
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut in chunks
2 tangerines, sliced thin, seeds removed
2 cups tangerine juice
2 cups light brown sugar, packed
1 cup water
1/4 teaspoon whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
1 1/2 pounds carrots, peeled
(Source: Tyler Florence, foodnetwork.com)
BROWN SUGAR BOURBON BAKED HAM
1 (6-to 8-pound) fully cooked, bone-in ham
48 whole cloves
1 (16-ounce) package light brown sugar
1 cup spicy brown mustard
1 cup cola soft drink
3/4 cup bourbon
Fresh bay leaves, for garnish
(Source: Southern Living, March 2009)
CHERRIES JUBILEE-BLACK PEPPER GLAZED HAM
Total time: 4 hours, 45 minutes
1 (10-to 12-pound) smoked, ready-to-cook bone-in ham
1 (14-ounce) can low-sodium chicken broth
2 1/4 cups cherry preserves (about 2 12-oz. jars)
3/4 cup brandy
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 tablespoon freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons whole grain Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons cane syrup
Whole grain Dijon mustard
For garnishes, fresh cherries, fresh sage sprigs
(Soiuthern Living used Smucker's Cherry Preserves and Smithfield Hardwood Smoked, Ready-to-Cook Ham.)
(Source: Southern Living, 2010)
BROWN SUGAR GLAZE
1 cup finely packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon dried mustard or 1/2 teaspoon prepared mustard
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons dry sherry (optional)
3 tablespoons vinegar
3 tablespoons water
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.