Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Ron’s Baked Ham

I emitted a small whoop of joy when Ron decided to bake a ham for our Early Christmas Dinner - first, because he promised to cook it, and second, because it feels like only yesterday that we enjoyed our Thanksgiving bird.
Hamming it up for Christmas

Turkey is a holiday tradition at our house, but its great to have a change. I must admit, I’m a little nervous around ham, the way a woman on her first date worries that she’ll have a strand of spinach draped across a tooth after dinner.

(That actually happened to my Auntie Rigmor on her first date with my Uncle Bill. Didn’t make any difference. This Christmas Eve, they’ll celebrate 72 years of marriage. My aunt and uncle live in California, but have a long way to go to break any records. The honor for the longest marriage ever belonged to New Yorkers Daniel and Susan Bakeman, who were married 91 years and 12 days. I kid you not.) 

Ham unnerves me - with good reason. There was the infamous Year of the Clove, when I studded the ham with cloves so extensively that the kitchen smelled like a dental office

There was the Year of Catch Me If You Can, in which a clutch of wide-eyed guests watched as the cooked ham slid off the plate and onto the floor. I picked it up, carried it into the kitchen, and 30 seconds later trotted back to the dining room with the words: “Good thing I made two of these!” No one was fooled.

There was the Year of the Pemmican when I - thinking more is, well, more - cranked the oven to 425 deg. F. and let ’er rip! Which the ham did, falling from the knife like a chunk of jerky.

Over the years, Ive come to believe that hams are a heap of trouble. I’ve been wrong. Ron’s ham was effortless to prepare (for me, at least) and as moist and delicious as they come. I usually score the fatty sheath on a ham (hence, the Year of the Clove), but Ron didnt need to. The 10-lb. (4.5 kg) beauty he bought was so well trimmed that there was no fat to be found. If I ever get that lean, hell probably sell tickets.

The difference between men and women who cook is that if a woman offered you her Baked Ham recipe, there would be instructions for pan preparations and measurements and fussy little Notes and all those things women do. When a man cooks a ham, its a pinch of this and a pound of that and the pineapple-glazed thing or the brown-sugar thing ... Watch these videos and you’ll soon get the picture! 

You’ll note that the man demonstrating how to cook a ham touches it all over with his fingers. Then you’ll note that he appears to have a cold. YECH! (If you're an email subscriber to this blog and these YouTube videos show up on your screen as a “blocked plug-in,” watch them by clicking on the original post rather than the emailed version).
Ron’s Baked Ham:

To Prepare a Fully Cooked Ham:

One big sucker of a fully cooked (“ready-to-eat”), bone-in ham

Ham should stand at room temperature for 2 hr. before cooking.
Preheat oven to 325 deg. F. Place ham on rack in uncovered roasting pan. If ham has fatty sheath, score in diamond pattern so fat can drip off. Insert meat thermometer away from bone (placing thermometer near bone produces false reading). Bake until ham reaches internal temperature of 135 deg. F. Tent ham with foil and allow to rest until ham reaches an internal temperature of 140 deg. F. and about 5 degrees less if ham will be glazed.

To Prepare the Glaze:

1 c. brown sugar
2 tsp. dried mustard
3 tbsp. apple cider vinegar

Remove ham from oven. Raise oven heat to 425 deg. F. while combining sugar, mustard, and vinegar in small bowl. Brush over ham. Return ham to oven and immediately lower heat to 325 deg. F. Bake a further 20 min. or until ham reaches internal temperature of 140 deg. F. Slice and serve.
Note: The cooking times and internal temperatures of various types of ham is actually a little complicated. Refer to the chart at for detailed information about cooking times and internal temperatures, which vary with the type of ham and with whether or not it has a bone.

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