Finding, preparing the most flavorful glaze can give big boost to popular holiday ham

Since most people purchase holiday hams that are already cured, preparing the ham dinner is mostly a
A spiral-sliced and glazed ham from the Honeybaked Ham Company in Colonie looks ready to be served for Easter dinner.
A spiral-sliced and glazed ham from the Honeybaked Ham Company in Colonie looks ready to be served for Easter dinner.

According to a survey conducted last year by the Des Moines, Iowa-based National Pork Board, 67 percent of Americans have ham for Easter dinner. What’s great about this entree is how easy it is to prepare.

Brian Sterner, executive chef at the Gideon Putnam Resort in Saratoga Springs, points out that most people purchase hams that are already cured. So preparing a ham for dinner is about reheating and glazing the ham throughout the reheating process. Sauces, rubs and glazes are what make a ham stand out on the Easter dinner table.

“Getting the most flavor is about whatever type of rub or sauce you put with it,” Sterner said. Ham pairs well with a variety of flavors, from sweet to spicy and everything in between.

Sterner likes to use an apple cider and whole grain mustard glaze that is easy to prepare. He takes one gallon of apple cider and heats it to reduce it to one-half gallon. Then he mixes in one cup of stone-ground mustard. “It’s naturally sweet with the slight tartness of the apple cider,” he said.

He puts the glaze on, wraps the ham in foil, warms it in the oven for about an hour, uncovers it and then continues to glaze it every 15 minutes until it reaches the desired temperature, about a half an hour more, depending on the size of the ham. Before serving it, he spoons some of the glaze on top of the sliced ham. Sterner likes to serve the ham with applesauce mixed with raisins.

One common mistake is overcooking a ham. “You only need to cook them to 140 [degrees],” said Ceci Snyder, spokeswoman and dietician for the National Pork Board. Overcooking can lead to a dry ham.

Hams come either boneless or bone-in. While a big, bone-in ham is a “show-stopping centerpiece,” said Snyder, many people choose boneless hams for the ease in carving them. Spiral cut hams offer the best of both worlds, with the slices already cut to the bone for easy serving. “The last few years, we’ve definitely seen an interest in spiral hams for their convenience,” Snyder said. “It takes a lot of guesswork out of how to cut a ham,” she said.

The already-cut idea certainly turned out to be a gold mine for one entrepreneur, Michigan resident Harry J. Hoenselaar, who started the HoneyBaked Ham Co. 40 years ago and has grown it to more than 400 stores nationwide.

Bone-in hams provide about 2 to 3 servings per pound, while boneless hams offer 4 to 5 servings per pound. Because ham comes from a pig’s leg muscle, which is a well-exercised part, ham is naturally lean, Snyder said.

Chipotle-Glazed Ham with Cherry-Jicama Salsa

Recipes courtesy of Rick and Lanie Bayless, authors of Rick & Lanie’s Excellent Kitchen Adventures, for the National Pork Board.

1 bone-in, spiral-cut cooked ham (8 to 9 pounds)

1 turkey-size cooking bag

1 jar (12 to 13 ounces) of high-quality cherry preserves

2 canned chipotle chilies en adobo, plus 1 tablespoon of the canning (adobo) sauce

For cherry-jicama salsa:

11⁄2 cups finely chopped red onion

11⁄2 cups diced peeled jicama

1 cup chopped dried bing cherries

1⁄2 cup apple cider vinegar

1⁄3 cup chopped cilantro

Set oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove ham from packaging; if it has a plastic disk over the bone, pull it off and throw it away. Lay the ham, cut-side down in a turkey-size cooking bag. Gather the bag up over the ham, pressing out all the air. Fasten with the enclosed tie. Trim excess plastic from above the tie. Using a small knife, make 6 half-inch slits around the top of the bag to allow steam to escape.

Place the ham in a 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Bake for 80 to 90 minutes (roughly 10 minutes per pound), until the temperature near the bone reads 100 degrees on an instant-read thermometer.

In a food processor or blender, combine the cherry preserves, chipotle chili and its canning sauce. Process until smooth. Scoop out and set aside 1⁄2 cup of the glaze for seasoning the salsa.

When the ham reaches 100 degrees, remove from oven, slit the bag and pull it out from under the ham, letting all the juices run into the pan. Tip the pan slightly and spoon off all but about 1⁄4 cup of the juices. Brush the glaze except what you’ve reserved over the top and sides of the ham.

Return to the oven and bake for an additional 30 to 40 minutes, until the temperature near the bone reads 140 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. If there is time, tent the foil and let rest for 15 minutes before serving.

In a large bowl, make salsa by stirring together the onion, jicama, cherries, vinegar and the 1⁄2 cup of reserved glaze. Taste and season with salt, usually about 11⁄2 teaspoons. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

When the ham is ready, stir the cilantro into the salsa and serve along with slices of ham.

Makes 31⁄2 cups salsa and 10 to 14 servings (3 ounces each) of ham.

NOTE: Dried sweetened tart cherries can be used if bing cherries are unavailable.


Recipe from the National Pork Board.

1 fully cooked whole boneless ham (5 pounds)

1⁄3 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1⁄2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1⁄4 teaspoon ground cloves

2⁄3 cup apricot nectar

2 tablespoons lemon juice

Place ham on rack in a shallow roasting pan. Bake, uncovered, in oven at 325 degrees for 11⁄4 hours or until meat thermometer registers 140 degrees (about 15 to 18 minutes per pound).

For the glaze, in a small saucepan combine brown sugar, cornstarch, nutmeg and cloves. Stir in apricot nectar and lemon juice. Cook over medium heat until thickened and bubbly, stirring constantly.

Brush ham with glaze. Continue baking 15 to 20 minutes more, brushing occasionally with glaze.

Serves 20.

Baked Ham with Mojo Sauce

Recipe from the National Pork Board.

4 cups mojo sauce (see recipe below)

1 bone-in ready-to-eat ham (about 14 to 16 pounds)

16 whole cloves

2 to 4 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1⁄4 cup (packed) brown sugar

11⁄2 cups dry white wine

Papaya salsa (see recipe below)

Prepare mojo sauce ahead of time. Set aside 2 cups of the sauce for serving.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place ham in shallow roasting pan; score a diamond pattern about 1⁄8-inch thick into the upper surface of the ham. Insert a clove at the crossed points of the diamonds.

Brush the ham with the mustard and sprinkle it with the brown sugar. Pour 1 cup of the mojo sauce over the top. Bake in the center of the heated oven for 2 hours or until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest portion (not touching bone) registers 140 degrees (about 15 to 18 minutes per pound), basting every 20 to 30 minutes, alternating with 1⁄4 cup each white wine and remaining mojo sauce.

Transfer ham to platter. Let stand 15 minutes; slice and serve with the reserved 2 cups of mojo sauce and papaya salsa.

Serves 30.

Mojo Sauce

16 cloves garlic, thinly sliced lengthwise

1 cup finely slivered onion

1 teaspoon ground cumin

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 cups fresh orange juice (from 3 or 4 oranges)

1⁄2 cup fresh lime juice (from 2 or 3 limes)

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

In a medium bowl, combine garlic, onion, cumin, and salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add the onion mixture and cook, stirring, until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the orange juice, lime juice and vinegar, and cook another 5 minutes for the flavors to blend. Cool to room temperature.

Makes 4 cups.

Papaya Salsa

2 ripe papayas (about 1 pound each)

2 ripe plum tomatoes, seeded and cut into 1⁄4-inch dice

1 tablespoon seeded, finely chopped jalapeño pepper

1⁄3 cup finely chopped red onion

1⁄4 cup chopped fresh cilantro or flat-leaf parsley

Finely grated zest of 2 limes

1⁄3 cup fresh lime juice

Peel and seed the papaya and cut it into 1⁄4-inch dice. Place in a medium-size bowl. Gently fold the tomatoes, jalapeño, red onion, cilantro and lime zest into the papaya. Toss in the lime juice. Refrigerate, covered, until ready to use, no longer than 4 hours.

Makes about 4 cups.

Hoisin-Sesame Plum Glaze

Recipe from the National Pork Board.

1 cup red plum jam

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 teaspoons hoisin sauce

2 teaspoons chopped green onion

2 teaspoons sesame oil

1⁄2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

In a microwave-safe 2-cup glass measuring cup or bowl, whisk together ingredients. Microwave on high (100 percent) for 11⁄2 to 2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds. Brush half of mixture on ham prior to baking. Brush remaining sauce over ham just as it comes out of the oven. Makes about 11⁄4 cups glaze.

For a lighter flavor, offer glaze in a side dish at the dinner table for guests to flavor to their taste.

Serving suggestions: This flavorful savory glaze is good for a basic boneless ham. Also a nice touch to offer in a side dish at the dinner table to flavor to their taste.

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