LOS ANGELES, April 14, 2017 – Are you debating whether to cook ham or lamb for your Easter dinner? You’re not alone. Those two main courses are usual suspects around the buffet table this time of year. The succulent, sweet and saltiness of ham or the decadent rich, tenderness of lamb.
Both wonderful choices. But this article is about ham.
What is Ham?
Ham is the delicious and fatty part of the butt and the shank of the pig. The ham is cured (a combination of salt, sugar and possibly nitrates rubbed into the meat over a 2-6 day period) to draw excess moisture out and to help preserve the meat.
History of ham:
Before there was refrigeration people would cure meat, a long process that would take all winter and typically it would be ready around Easter.
Grocery stores do not sell raw hams, they only sell precooked hams, or if you are lucky to find them, the spiral sliced which is perfect for parties.
Despite the desire to cook a raw ham the ease of a precooked ham will quickly outweigh the cost and the effort needed to cook a raw ham.
Ham will cost you between two to three dollars a pound and it comes in many different weights but typically it weighs between 9 and 11 pounds. Assume 3 to 4 servings per pound.
Prepping and cleaning:
Remove the packaging but be sure to keep the directions on how to reheat the ham. The trick to prepping a delicious ham is to find a pan big enough with a tall side to cook the ham in. The tall side will keep the juices with the ham and prevent spillage when taking it out of the oven.
When buying an already cooked ham tyou do not want to clean the hame before cooking as it would remove the flavorings and glaze.
Read the instructions on the ham but most will warm in about 12-15 minutes when placed covered in a 325-degree oven. Remember these hams are already cooked so you are just heating them.
Ham can be bought in two ways whole and spiral cut. To make you life easier, purchase the spiral cut. Serve your ham with delicious butter rolls and asparagus. Don’t forget to provide a honey Dijon mustard to add to the flavor of the ham.
If you want to take your ham beyond heat and serve, the following recipe will create an entree that is all about your culinary skill.
PRE-COOKED SPIRAL AND WHOLE HAM:
Follow directions on packaging; the ham is already ‘cooked’ and you are ‘warming’ not cooking. You do not want to over “warm” or dry out the ham, so follow temperature and directions carefully.
A spiral sliced ham will often come preglazed or with a glaze packet. If you buy a whole ham on the bone, cross hatch the exterior of the ham, inserting a clove where the cuts cross each other. You can also use toothpicks to add pineapple spirals and marischino cherries to the exterior.
Using a ham rack, place the ham in the center of a pan lined with tinfoil for easy cleanup and cook for the indicated time on the packaging.
To make your ham special, take the juice from a can of pineapple and a can of peaches and combine with prepackaged glaze or melt 1/2 cup brown sugar in a little bit of hot water until a thick liquid. Combine the juice and brown sugar, heating until thick but not bubbly.
Combine the juice and brown sugar, heating until thick but not bubbly.
Another great glaze combines the glaze packet or brown sugar, Jack Daniels and half a can of cola to create a thick, syrupy glaze. Go ahead and festoon your ham with the cloves, pineapple rings (fresh or canned) and cherries before glazing.
Glaze the ham using a brush and let it sit, tented for up to an 30 minutes before warming.
Combine the pineapple, peaches and maraschino cherries in a shallow roasting pan, lightly crumble brown sugar on top and put in the oven to fully warm and for the sugar to melt.
Arrange on a plate around the ham. Remove the cloves when slicing.
Honey Dijon for the Ham:
½ cup honey
¼ cup Dijon mustard
Whisk the two together until it is blended well. Serve with your ham.