4.04.2012

how to cook a ham

Everyone has a different theory on what is the better "cut" of meat for a ham. I like a bone in butt end because bone in lends more flavor and butt end has more meat and better tasting meat (in my opinion). Shank end is easier to cut and has a nicer bone (if that matters to you). Really you can't go wrong as long as you buy a bone-in half or whole ham. 

Do not, I repeat, DO NOT buy a spiral ham. They tend to be saltier and dry out much quicker. Treat yourself and buy a nice ham from a butcher or grocery store. It will be so much tastier!

People have all different traditions and theories on glazing, cooking, and preparing a ham. I like making ham gravy with ham hocks so I can glaze my ham and get the best of both worlds. I've tried all different types of glazes and my favorite is a non-traditional fig + mustard glaze (not just for chicken) inspired by Claire Robinson. It's a beautiful purple/brown and gets sticky and caramelizes beautifully on the skin. It's divine!  You can take your favorite glaze recipe or not use one at all. The cooking principal is the same…

how to cook a ham:

Preheat oven to 325º F. On the fat/skin side, score your ham. All you want to do is make some horizontal and vertical lines to allow the fat to crisp up. Place ham skin side up in your baking dish and place in the oven for 30 minutes. This will allow the fat to cook down a bit and the skin to crisp up. After 30 minutes of baking, add about 1-2" of liquid (chicken stock, veggie stock, water) to the bottom of the dish and continue cooking for about 2 more hours depending on how big your ham is. If you're glazing, this is the point where you want to put that on your ham. 



Baste every 30 minutes (pour some of that liquid in the bottom over the ham to keep it moist). Factor in about 20 minutes of cooking time per pound. The goal is to get your ham to an internal temperature 135º F. When you pull it out to rest for 20-30 minutes, it will continue to rise to about 140 F which is your goal. You'll want to cover it in a tin foil tent so that it stays warm. Resting is important because it allows the juices to distribute throughout the whole hunk of meat. If you jump the gun and cut into it right away, you'll end up with a ton of juice on the plate instead of juicy meat. 

improv style:
the improv is really how you treat your ham… glaze, pineapple rings with cherries, clove studded, etc… the cooking method is simple and easy. i don't have a large roasting pan so i just use my 9x13 pyrex pan. work with what you have and if you have any questions, post a comment below and i'll respond as quick as possible!

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