My dear friend Dano requested a ham for Thanksgiving. I said what I usually say, “Of course, I’ll make ham for Thanksgiving, in addition to the turkey.” I didn’t tell him that until this Thanksgiving I had never baked a ham.
My only memories of my mother baking a ham involved a canned ham decorated with canned pineapple rings and maraschino cherries. I think she was intrigued with the idea of decorated, festive food. I think she made it only once. I don’t remember ever eating this and I’m not sure anyone in the house actually did.
But, I admit, I’ve always been intrigued with the gorgeous images in cooking magazines laden with Southern spreads and a whole ham waiting to be carved. So, I decided to do learn about ham.
I started with a one-on-one tutorial with my neighborhood Bristol Farms butcher. I learned about bone in ham, boneless ham, uncooked ham, fully cooked ham, whole ham, 1/2 ham and pre-sliced ham.
While I was trying to figure out what type of ham to buy, I looked at the Costco website and their online grocery products. And much to my surprise, they offered a spiral sliced, honey cured, bone in, country ham that had rave reviews and came from Smithfield, North Carolina. This seemed like good ham credential. Shipping was free, so I ordered one.
It arrived with a packet of glaze and cooking instructions. The ham itself looked kind of like what I’ve seen in those magazines. The glaze didn’t appeal to me, so I made my own.
It was so good, my tasters raved and ate it, both as pre-Thanksgiving fare and on Thanksgiving day.
One of the things I did, and I recommend this if your ovens will be busy with turkey and side dishes, is to fully cook and even slice the ham one day ahead. It’s easy to warm up and you are assured of perfect slices for your platter.
The ham was so good, now I’m looking for a way to incorporate ham into my New Year’s Day Brunch and play with other glaze ideas.
This one is a keeper!
BAKED HAM WITH BOURBON PECAN GLAZE
SERVES: 10-16 People, Easily
GLAZE: This makes enough for a bone in ham, 6-8 pounds. If you are making a larger ham, double the recipe.
1/2 cup apple juice
1/4 cup bourbon
1 cup packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup toasted pecans
1/4 cup mild flavored molasses
2 tablespoons Coleman’s dry mustard
1 6-8 lb bone in ham
Large roasting pan lined with both foil and parchment paper
Rack for ham
1. Combine juice and bourbon in a small saucepan, over medium heat and reduce to 1/3 cup.
2. In a food processor, combine sugar, pecans, molasses and mustard. Pulse to combine and add bourbon / juice mixture, and continue to pulse until it forms a thick paste.
3. Place ham, fat side up, in roasting pan that has been lined with foil that extends over the sides of the pan and parchment paper. (This makes clean up very easy!)
4. Most hams come with instructions that tell you to bake the ham at 325 degrees until it reaches an internal temperature of 135 degrees and then raise temperature to 425 degrees, add glaze and roast another 20-25 minutes. I applied the thick glaze paste to the ham from the beginning and even between the sides. This made more sense to me as I didn’t want to be putting the thick paste on a hot ham and I wanted the flavors to really permeate.
5. Keep an eye on the ham: If it gets too dark or starts to burn, loosely cover it with foil.
6. If you’re not doing this a day ahead, let the ham stand at least 20 minutes before slicing and serving.