A spiral-cut ham will grace many Christmas tables this week, and not a few of them will end up closer to ham jerky than the succulent slices of our holiday dreams.
That won’t be the case with the right glaze and cooking technique. This year, the editors at Cook’s Illustrated released a comprehensive guide to cooking meat called “The Cook’s Illustrated Meat Book” (Cook’s Illustrated, $40) that comes in handy for moments like these.
They suggest bringing the plastic-wrapped ham to room temperature by soaking it in a warm water bath, which will reduce the total cooking time and moisture loss in the oven. A turkey roasting bag also will help keep in the moisture and cut down on cooking time; a roasting pan covered tightly with aluminum foil will help the ham heat evenly without drying out.
For the glaze, you can use everything from Coca Cola — a beloved tradition in a least a few families I know — to a fancy reduction of port wine, black pepper and brown sugar. Because glazes usually have quite a bit of sugar, brush on the glaze toward the end of the cooking time, not at the beginning, to avoid burning.
Glazing a ham is a great excuse to pull out a jar of jam you made over the summer. Cook’s Illustrated recommends cherry preserves, apple jelly or, as in this recipe from the culinary team at Randalls, orange marmalade. (The mayonnaise helps keep the ham even more moist.)
Bourbon-Orange Glazed Ham
1 (3 to 4 lb.) spiral-cut ham
1 cup orange marmalade
1/2 cup bourbon
1/2 cup orange juice concentrate
1/4 cup mayonnaise
Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Place the ham cut-side down in a roasting pan and cover tightly with aluminum foil. (Or place the ham inside a roasting bag and seal.) Cook for about 10 minutes a pound, or until the internal temperature reaches 100 degrees.
Meanwhile, combine the rest of the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk together.
Increase the heat to 350 degrees. Peel off the foil or roasting bag and brush on glaze. Cook for 10 minutes and brush again with glaze. Cook for another 10 minutes. Remove from oven and tent with foil. Allow the ham to rest for 10 to 15 minutes before serving. Serves 8.
— Adapted from a recipe from Randalls