Elevating Baked Ham by Sommer
There’s nothing quite like a big juicy baked ham for holiday gatherings. I can’t tell you how excited I get when I see a table spread with ample cozy side dishes with a huge pearly pink sliced ham in the center.
Although I’ve never met a ham I didn’t like, there definitely are specific ham experiences I remember as outstanding, because of how they were prepared before baking. With just a handful of ingredients, and a few minutes of time, you can turn a good ham into an exceptional ham.
First off, when you buy a ham at the grocery store, most will state that they are “ready to serve.” That means the ham is in fact fully cooked and can be picked at and nibbled on immediately after opening.
The reason for baking a fully cooked ham is to warm the huge piece of meat all the way to the center, releasing the juices for a moist and tender texture. And to infused additional flavor!
I like to start with a “spiral cut” ham, because it removes the need for slicing the ham later, and it’s easier to ramp up the flavor.
Stuff your hamA big spiral ham with layers and layers of delicate pork slices offers a huge opportunity to squeeze flavor between the layers.
Over the years, I’ve stuffed all kinds of ingredients between juicy ham slices, but these are my favorites …
Believe it or not, thinly sliced apples, peaches, and canned pineapple make a wonderful stuffing for baked ham. Cut paper-thin slices of fruit, slide them in between the ham layers, and bake. They make the ham extra sweet and juicy!
Notice I mentioned “canned pineapple”. Fresh pineapple is so acidic it will actually cause the ham to break down into mush. Stick with canned pineapple, but apples and peaches can be fresh.
Prepare a simple mixture of panko bread crumbs, fresh chopped herbs like rosemary or thyme, and black pepper together. Then spoon it into the nooks and crannies of your spiral cut ham. Bake as directed on the ham wrapping.
Glaze your hamA rich salty ham can be enhanced by brushing a lovely glazed over the surface several times while baking. The glaze seeps down into the ham, flavoring the meat and creating a crusty exterior.
Try these amazing ham glazes:
- Bourbo, brown sugar, and vanilla extract
- Honey, Dijon mustard, and fresh chopped thyme
- Cranberry sauce, maple syrup, and fresh chopped rosemary
- Orange marmalade, soy sauce, and fresh ginger
- Cherry jam and root beer
You don’t need a recipe for any of these. Just mix a little of each ingredient at a time, until it’s thick and saucy, and it tastes good to you.
Brush the glaze over the entire surface of the ham and bake. Make sure to spoon up the pan juices and re-glaze 2-3 times while baking.
Insulate your hamAfter you’ve stuffed and glazed your lovely spiral ham, make sure to cover it well in the oven so it doesn’t dry out.
I usually bake a ham for around 2 hours on 350ºF. Keep it covered with heavy duty foil for the first 75 to 90 minutes, glazing twice. Then glaze again and uncover for the last 30 minutes, so the skin can get crusty.