Cooking School 101: Holiday Ham

By Fabiana Santana

Making the holiday ham can be a daunting task for a first timer on the hosting circuit. Do you go spiral or whole? Glazed or anise studded? Bone in or boneless?

Who knew ham had such demands?

The first thing you must do is find a good quality ham. These days, many grocery stores offer a wide selection of artesian and high quality ham, but you may have to pre order them, so make sure to inquire well before the big day. Premium mail order companies like  Edwards of Surry, Virginia are famous for their authentic souther smoked meats  -especially  ham. Martha Stewart Living rated Edwards’ among one of nine artisans “turning out extraordinary foods across America.”

They have a wide selection from uncooked to cooked (don’t feel guilty about buying a cooked ham – if you have a large brood that expects you to bake, too, this could be a lifesaver), bone in, spiral, honey sweet and smoked. The most traditional of the bunch, however, and the one guaranteed to get the most oohs and aahs at the dinner table, is the honey-sweet, boneless, spiral ham. Edwards ships theirs with a glaze made with hooey, brown sugar and oil of orange. The spiral slices makes serving a cinch and if you order it pre cooked, all you have to do is heat the thawed ham in a 350 degree oven until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees with a meat thermometer.

If you’re going to attempt to cook the ham yourself, then here are a few tips to make sure your ham doesn’t overcook or dry out.

1. Heat your oven to 300 degrees.

2. Remove the ham from its wrapper and place on a rack in the center of a roasting pan.

3. Add 3/4 cup of water to the pan.

4. Loosely cover the ham with a foil tent and press the foil down onto the edge of the pan so that the oven’s heat doesn’t blow it off.

5. Cook ham for 10-12 minutes per pound.

6. Remove the pan from the oven and increase heat to 425. Prepare the glaze (if your ham didn’t come with one, a recipe is below) and spread over the top of the ham using a pastry brush. Place ham back into the oven for 10 minutes until glaze is caramelized.

Rum Soaked Ham Glaze
1/2 cup spiced rum like Captain Morgan’s
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup of honey or 1/2 cup of maple syrup
2 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Bring all ingredients to a boil in a medium sized saucepan, stirring constantly to dissolve the brown sugar.  Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside until you are ready to glaze the ham. If your glaze is too thick, add some juice from the cooked ham to thin it out.