Selecting Your Holiday Ham
Ham is the quintessential perfect centerpiece for your holiday table. Here are some tips on how to select, cook and serve a succulent, crowd-pleasing ham.
Select It: If you’re looking for convenience, a spiral sliced bone-in ham offers ease of serving. If not already spiral sliced, bone-in hams are more difficult to cut than a boneless ham but tend to be more flavorful. The leftover bone can be frozen and used to flavor a lentil stew, braised collard greens, and split pea or white bean soup.
Hams can either be fully cooked, partially cooked or uncooked. Fully cooked hams have been baked, cured or smoked and are ready to eat. Simply serve fully cooked hams chilled or at room temperature, or if you choose, heat the ham and apply a glaze (more on this below). For a partially cooked or uncooked ham follow the directions on the package label to ensure it’s cooked to a safe internal temperature of 140°F. Plan for about 1/4- to 1/2-pound per serving for a boneless ham and 1/2- to 3/4-pound per serving for a bone-in ham.
Cook It:To glaze a 7- to 8- pound spiral sliced bone-in ham, place the ham on a rack in a roasting pan filled with about 1/2 inch of water and loosely cover with foil. Let it stand for 30 minutes. Bake the ham at 325°F for 1 hour, then uncover, apply your favorite glaze and cook it 20 minutes longer, brushing with the glaze every ten minutes. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.
Another option for enhancing a spiral sliced bone-in ham is to apply a rub and then smoke it. Coat the ham with yellow mustard then sprinkle with your favorite pork rub and massage it into the ham. Heat a smoker to 230°F and place the ham flat side down in the smoker away from the heat source to prevent burning. Smoke the ham for 2-1/2 to 3 hours. Add additional flavor by brushing the ham with barbeque sauce during the last 30 minutes.
Serve It:Impress guests with a variety of flavors by pairing ham with dipping sauces like honey-mustard or horseradish. Complement it with garnishes of fresh fruits such as pineapple wedges, citrus wedges, and/or assorted berries, parsley sprigs or red kale.