Sticky Baked Ham

September 24, 2015

If turkey is the focal point of the Thanksgiving table, ham is the main event at Easter; it’s as suitable at brunch as at dinner, and is perfect for feeding a crowd, especially one with a wide range of ages. Kids love nibbling at ham as much as grown-ups do; if you serve it buffet-style with a pile of biscuits, everyone can serve themselves, and it won’t matter if the ham cools down and is served at room temperature.

Best of all, a big roast ham provides the very best leftovers, whether you have meat to dice and stir into pastas, turn into salads or scatter over pizza, or a big hambone to use as the base for a hearty lentil or black bean soup.

If you’re nervous about your cooking skills, a ham is cured and precooked, meaning you don’t have to worry about timing as much as you do with a roast beef or turkey – you just need to heat it through. Give it about an hour before you brush it with whatever glaze you’ve come up with; because most are sweet, and sugar tends to burn easily, it gets brushed on at the very end, then returned to the oven for 20 minutes.. just enough time to let it caramelize and turn gilded and glossy. A ham glaze can be made out of any number of ingredients – I generally use roughly equal parts brown sugar and grainy mustard with about half as much balsamic vinegar – but you can rummage through your fridge and cupboards and come up with all kinds of ingredients that will taste great mixed together and slathered over a salty ham, from marmalade to sweet chili or hoisin sauce or even apple cider or a can of root beer that has gone flat. Be creative – and save those canned pineapple rings and cherries for an upside-down cake.

Sticky Baked Ham

If your ham comes with a layer of fat, score it with a sharp knife in a diamond pattern, without cutting all the way through to the meat.

1 4-6 lb. bone-in ham (shank or butt)
1/2 cup apple jelly, peach or apricot jam or marmalade
1/4 cup grainy or Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp. packed brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 350°F, with the rack placed at a medium-low level to accommodate the ham.

Place the ham in a foil-lined roasting pan. Bake it for about an hour. Meanwhile, stir together the jam, mustard, balsamic and brown sugar.

Remove the ham from the oven and brush with glaze. Return to oven and bake for another 20-30 minutes (if you have a thermometer, it should register 130° when inserted into the thickest part of the meat), basting with the glaze once or twice if you think of it. If it starts to burn, cover it loosely with a piece of foil.

Let the ham rest on a carving board for 10 minutes before you slice it. Serve with soft buns or cheddar biscuits, if you like.

Serves 10 or more.

- Julie Van Rosendaal

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