When I was growing up, my mother’s favorite meal to make for company was baked ham and it was our standard Easter dinner nearly every year until I left home. We would roast it in the oven for hours, basting it with brown sugar and studding the top with pineapple rings, Maraschino cherries, and whole cloves. The house would fill with the aroma and we couldn’t wait for dinner!
This year I wanted to recreate that memory for my family’s Easter dinner, but to put my own creative spin on it. I decided to cook it with a sweet bourbon-chile glaze. It turned out a little like a honey-glazed ham you can buy, but oh so much better!
You don’t have to buy an expensive piece of meat to feed a crowd. You can buy a reasonably priced ham at your local grocery or warehouse store and make a meal that I would gladly serve to anyone. Full of incredible flavor, moist and tender, this is great for a party.
The beauty of making a ham is that you spend a little bit of time up front prepping it and then it roasts slowly becoming tender and perfectly glazed. And once you’ve served your main meal, the leftovers are fantastic. I love ham with eggs at breakfast, ham sandwiches for lunch or dinner, and ham used in casseroles. My mom would feed our whole family for an entire weekend with one large whole ham.
While the ease of carving a boneless ham may seem appealing, whenever possible buy bone-in meats. The bones give a tremendous amount of flavor to anything you are making and can be used afterwards to create other dishes or soup stock for future meals. And when you wrap it with the double layer of foil for roasting, clean up is a snap!
If you are only serving a couple of people, you can use the same glaze on thick slices of boneless ham. Make half the recipe for the glaze, put it in a saucepan over medium-low heat and reduce to about half the original volume, stirring often, until it coats the back of a spoon. Place the ham slices in a single layer in a baking pan and pour the glaze over the top. Seal the pan with aluminum foil or tight fitting lid and bake in a moderate oven for about 20 minutes until heated through, turning the slices over halfway through. You can do this a day in advance, leave the ham slices in the glazing liquid, and reheat gently the following day.
I love this glaze. Whatever you don’t use to brush on the ham while baking, put in a saucepan and reduce. Then you can use it for a sauce to drizzle over the ham slices at the table. You can also use it to help keep carved ham moist – I always store any cooked meats with the pan juices. It really helps when you are reheating meals for later in the week. It actually does triple duty … as a glaze during baking, as a sauce for serving, and keeping leftovers moist. Talk about a winner!
When this was roasting in the oven, The Artist kept coming downstairs from his home office, asking when the ham was going to be done – this went on for hours, LOL! Finally I was able to tell him, yes, we can carve it and have dinner. The smile on his face was worth the wait!!
If you are looking to make a ham for your Easter dinner or any visiting weekend guests, give this a try. All the components come together quickly and can be made the day before if needed. The oven does most of the work for you, giving you time to focus on preparing the rest of your meal.
Have a fabulous holiday celebration!
Jane’s Tips and Hints:
If you buy your ham from a butcher you can ask them for directions on how to carve it off the bone. If you buy yours from the grocers, here is a site that can help you. Use your largest, sharpest chef’s knife for the best results and let the bones guide your cuts.
Many hams are injected with liquids to help keep them moist. You need to be careful that there are no gluten-ingredients included in the treatment of less expensive hams. If there is any doubt, contact the producer for clarification of ingredients.
Baked Ham with Bourbon-Chile Glaze
© 2014 Jane Bonacci, The Heritage Cook. All rights reserved.
Yield: about 10 to 15 servings
7 to 9 lb pre-cooked, unsliced, bone-in ham (be careful to get one that is gluten-free if needed; the best bet is a natural ham from a good butcher)
2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp dried rosemary leaves
2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup pineapple juice
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup bourbon (or more juice for gluten-free)
2 tbsp honey mustard
Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Prepare the Ham: Line the bottom of a large roasting pan with heavy-duty aluminum foil. I like to set one long sheet lengthwise and then two long sheets overlapping going the opposite direction. This covers my pan completely and gives me plenty of foil to pull up over the ham. Remove ham from the refrigerator, pat dry with paper towels and set cut side down (if a half ham) in the foil-lined roasting pan. Alternately, you can use an oven bag specifically designed for roasting meats in place of the foil. Both methods make clean up much easier.
In a small bowl combine the onion powder, garlic, chili, rosemary, paprika, salt, pepper, brown sugar and olive oil. Whisk until you have a smooth paste. Rub the paste over the entire ham. Wrap the foil around the ham to hold in the steam. This protects the ham and keeps it moist. If the foil doesn’t completely cover the ham, you can drape another piece of foil over the top, pressing the foil around the ham. Leave ham at room temperature for 1 hour to come to room temperature.
Make the Glaze: In a small saucepan, combine all the glaze ingredients, whisking until smooth. Heat over medium-low heat, stirring often, until mixture is warmed through and blended. Reduce heat to low; stir occasionally.
Place the brown sugar in a bowl and add 3 to 4 tbsp of the glaze. Whisk until sugar has been dissolved. Add just enough liquid to make a paste about the consistency of honey. Set aside.
Cook the Ham: Set a rack in the lower third of the oven (make sure there is enough room to comfortably hold the ham) and preheat to 275°F. Place the ham in the oven and cook for 1 hour.
Uncover the ham and baste with a little of the glaze (3 to 4 tbsp). Close the lid/cover with foil and cook for 20 minutes per pound or about 1 to 2 more hours, basting lightly with glaze (3 to 4 tbsp each time) about every 20 to 30 minutes. My 9 lb ham took nearly 3 hours total baking time.
When an instant read thermometer inserted deep in the ham without touching the bone registers 120°F to 125°F, brush the brown sugar mixture over top of ham and let it drip down the sides, covering most of the ham. Leaving the ham uncovered, place back in the oven and cook until it reaches an internal temperature of 130°F to 140°F, creating a sweet crust on the outside.
Remove from the oven and let sit for at least 30 minutes before removing from the roasting pan and carving.
To Serve: Using two very strong kitchen forks, carefully move the ham to a cutting board, flat-side down. Transfer the liquids from the foil lined baking pan to a container and set aside to cool.
Carve the ham into slices, working your way around the bone. Store any leftover ham in the reserved pan juices, covered, in the refrigerator or freezer. Store the bone separately and use it to make soup or stock.
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