It’s All About the Ham

Anyone can make a mediocre spiral sliced ham. Just re-heat, paint on glaze and bake. But we are foodies and we want juicy, flavorful, crackling crisp skin that is cooked to perfection. Let’s talk variety and the essential tools to create an irresistible ham.

It’s important to know what kind of ham you are cooking to ensure the best results for the cooking process. Fresh ham is a raw, uncured rear leg of a hog. The cut usually comes with the skin on. This type of cut is perfect for roasting or smoking because it has not been cured. It is important that an internal temp of at least 145°F is reached during the cooking process.

The favorite at Easter is the traditional spiral sliced fully cooked, or ready-to-eat, ham. When choosing this ham, try to buy a bone-in spiral sliced ham with natural juices added, rather than “water-added.” The natural juices will produce a more savory and less salty ham.

Let’s get started with the essential tools and ingredients needed for a perfect spiral sliced bone-in Easter ham. The most accurate way to confirm the ham can come out of the oven is with an instant-read thermometer. Also, use a good quality roasting pan, have a carving fork and carving knife at the ready and get a cutting board with trenches. Other essential tools include a crème brûlée torch (to caramelize the ham after it’s done cooking), any size silicone pastry brush and, since we have chosen a spiral ham, a brining bag or container to soak the ham in.

My secret coating mix has the following ingredients in it and should be mixed and put in a bowl:
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 tsp. Vietnamese cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/8 tsp. paprika
1 dash ground ginger
1 dash ground allspice

You will want to keep the ham moist and a big ham can take hours to heat in the oven, so my secret technique is simple; soak the ham in warm water for 90 minutes which will raise the internal temperature and decrease the cooking time by an hour to ensure moisture retention.

Heat your oven to 275°F.

Remove the ham from the water, place it cut-side down on your roasting pan, tent it with foil, bake for 1 1/2 hours and baste with drippings.

Check the internal temperature of the ham. Once the ham hits an internal temp of 120°F, take it out of the oven. Then coat the ham with half of the secret mix, wave the torch over the sugar mix with rapid movements and spin the plate so you can torch all sides until sugar bubbles and browns. Repeat coating and torching again until the ham is well glazed to create a perfect caramelized crust.

From our kitchen to yours…Cucina Felice!

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Michele at Chef's
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