A succulent glazed ham is an easy and classic choice for a holiday celebration. And since Easter is right around the corner, why not plan on picking up a half pre-cooked ham, either shank or butt end if you will be serving 12 or fewer people. For a larger number of people, a whole ham would be your best choice. Providing you’re not going for a smoked country ham, a ready-to-eat ham is an economical choice as it often goes on sale just before Easter. Even so, look for the best quality. “In natural juices” on the label will assure a better flavor than ”with water added.”
Now, which to buy, the butt end or the shank end? The butt end will provide more meat, although it will be more difficult to slice because of the shape of the bone.
½ ready-to-eat, cooked ham, bone-in, uncut (not spiral cut), shank or butt end, 8-11 lbs.
About 50 cloves
½ cup champagne vinegar
¾ cup maple syrup
½ cup country-style Dijon mustard
2 T apricot jam
Pinch of kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1. Remove the ham from the refrigerator still in its wrapping a couple of hours before you’re planning to cook so as to bring it close to room temperature.
2. Make a diamond pattern on the ham by cutting straight lines into the fat with a sharp knife about ½ inch deep parallel to each other. Score another set of lines at a 45 degree angle to the first to create a diamond pattern. The classic appearance is achieved by inserting a clove at each intersection.
3. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place ham, fat side up in a roasting pan lined with aluminum foil. Cook ham in oven for one hour.
4. While ham is cooking, make glaze. In a small saucepan, heat vinegar over medium heat until reduced to 2 T.
5. Add maple syrup, mustard, jam and salt. Cook, whisking, until well combined, about 2 minutes. Season with pepper to taste and set aside.
6. Remove ham from oven and brush top and sides generously with one third of the glaze.
7. Return to oven. Remember that the ham is already cooked so you don’t have to cook to an internal temperature of 140 degrees as is often instructed. The ham will need about another half hour of cooking to achieve an inner temperature between 110 and 120 degrees. It will be very warm, if not hot, and is more likely to retain its moisture.
8. Baste every ten minutes with the glaze. Don’t baste ham with its own juices as the glaze might wash off.
9. Take the ham out of the oven, cover with aluminum foil and let rest 15 minutes before serving.
Photographer Bill Brady http://bit.ly/9wFYxm