A beautifully cooked ham is a traditional centerpiece for an Easter family dinner. Roasting a ham is not difficult if you follow some simple steps. The following are some good tips on thawing, preparing and cooking your holiday ham.
There are several types of ham, most common is the precooked ham. The key to preparing a ham is to NOT overcook the ham. Proper cooking temperatures for all types of ham are as follows:
FRESH HAM – 145º to 155º
WHOLE OR HALF LEG – 145º to 155º
SMOKED HOLE OR HALF LEG – 145º
SMOKED OR FULLY COOKED – 130º to 140º
If you buy your ham frozen, it is best to thaw the ham before cooking to retain the maximum flavor. Refrigeration is the slowest but the safest. After purchase, just place the frozen ham in the refrigerator for at least 3 – 5 days. If you do not have that long, the cold water method can be used. Just submerge your frozen ham in a cooler filled with cold water. Allow it to thaw for 1 to 3 hours, depending on the size of your ham. Never thaw a frozen ham on the counter.
After thawing your ham, allow it to sit on the counter for approximately one hour to bring to room temperature. If your ham has a thin layer of fat, make sure to score it. Using the tip of a sharp knife, cut shallow slits on the surface of the ham, in a diamond pattern. If a flat layer is not on your ham, there is no need to score the roast. Preheat oven to 325º. You will want to cook the ham at a low temperature to avoid drying the meat out.
Set the roast on a wire rack, placed in a shallow baking pan, lined with aluminum foil (makes for easy clean up). Do NOT cover the ham. Do NOT add any additional water to the pan.
Begin roasting the ham, fat side up. The melting fat will baste the ham. Turn the ham over halfway through the cooking time to avoid uneven salting from the brine in the meat.
About 30 minutes before the end of baking time, score the ham (if you have not already). Place one whole clove in each intersection of your diamond pattern. Spoon your glaze over the ham. Return the ham to oven. Repeat glazing the ham, several times for a thicker coat.
After ideal cook temperature has been met, allow the ham to “rest” for 15-20 minutes before carving to retain juices.
Here are some quick “GLAZING” suggestions:
- Mix equal amounts (approx. ¼ cup, depending on the size of ham) of powdered mustard and brown sugar. Sprinkle mixture over ham surface for the final 30 minutes of cooking.
- Mix equal amounts (approx. ¾ cup, depending on the size of ham) orange juice, and pear juice. Baste ham twice within the first 15 minutes of baking.
- Mix equal amounts (approx. ¾ cup, depending on the size of ham) of brown sugar and honey. Brush sugar and honey mixture over ham during the last ½ hour of baking.
- Mix 1 cup of raspberry preserve (or cherry, apricot, etc) with ½ cup of light corn syrup. Mix until well blended and brush on ham during the last 15 to 30 minutes of baking.