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Can I bake a ham that isn't smothered in sugar and fruit?

I don't understand why pork always has to be paired with sugar and fruit -- especially ham -- as this combination has always struck me as insipid. Does anyone have a recipe for baked ham that does NOT involve pineapples, apricots, apples, pears, figs, sugar, honey, or other dessert items?

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  1. I roast mine in a 350 degree oven just like I do a turkey. Not basting, no fruits, no glaze. If it's looking too brown, I'll cover it with foil.

    4 Replies
    1. re: jcattles

      coleman mustard ,cider vinegar and black coffee sort of a tangy redeye gravy .Onions at the bottom of pan

        1. re: jcattles

          I do the same thing. I've never been a big fan of glazed ham.

        2. No, there's no law, bodacious. A little sweet is always good with ham, simply because salty and sweet complement one another. But it can come from the sugars in onions, which scunge had mentioned, or other roasted or caramelized veggies such as carrots and parsnips.

          The best ham I ever made (i.e., my friends still talk about it) did have fruit (Morello cherries), but you can skip that. What really made the ham is that it was basted in a spicy white wine. Wish I could remember which one--but I just started out with a little bit of it in the pan and basted it intermittently after the ham began to add pan juices.

          I also did a ham once in a similar fashion using Champagne, while the ham rested on a generous bed of sliced fresh fennel bulbs and (simple enough) corn kernels, mixed frozen out of the bag with the fresh fennel. There the corn added the sweetness.

          1. I am not suggesting this, but I did see Patty Labelle make a ham on Martha Stewart and she made a Dr. Pepper glaze. I thought Martha was going to have a coronary. It was priceless.

            I usually use a mustard glaze with very little sugar and use mixture of hot dog and dijon mustard. Have also done an aged balsamic vingar glaze -- this was a Mario Batelli idea.

            2 Replies
            1. re: pengcast

              Either hot dog, or aged balsamic ... I love it! I would love a slice of Patti LaBelle's Dr Pepper ham.

              1. re: foiegras

                When I didn't have any Coke around, I used root beer once and it was great. I've used Dr Pepper too, such an easy baste.

            2. My all-time favorite way to cook ham is to encase it in a rye dough and then pour cognac (or bourbon) between the meat and the case. It roasts in a very slow oven for a long while, and when you crack off the shell, the meat is so tender you could almost eat it with a spoon. The cognac gives the meat a nice "glow," and it is not icky sweet as with fruit.

              4 Replies
              1. re: ChefJune

                Wow, that sounds wonderful. I'd love to do this; can you provide a little more detail?

                1. re: ChefJune

                  That sounds wonderful - any chance on getting more info?

                  1. re: mitchell25418

                    I ended up baking my ham in mustard/sherry, and it came out OK, not great (tho hubby loved it). The cola/soda idea is intriguing, but the rye dough is what really catches my eye. How do you do that (what temp)?

                  2. re: ChefJune

                    ChefJune,
                    Could you please post a recipe for your ham cooked in rye dough and cognac?
                    By the way, is this an uncooked (but smoked or brined) ham you use? Or is it an already-cooked ham that you are actually heating up rather than cooking?

                  3. Absolutely! I'm with you, but would use a stronger word than "insipid." It's gross and a waste of great pan drippings. Why would you do that?
                    If you like fruit with your ham, serve some type of relish, pickled or spiced fruit, or chutney along side it.
                    The drippings and leftover ham/hambone can be used for soups and other dishes without having to wash off the sugary stuff. Ick!

                    Actually most hams caramelize beautifully without a thing on them. You can score the skin in a decorative pattern if it pleases you. Serve with some good mustards and the skimmed drippings.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: MakingSense

                      My kind of ham - not pimped up! Those pineapple ones with cloves sticking out everywhere just give me the willies. Thanks for a reminder of what hams should taste like.

                      I like to cook a ham on low & slow for several hours, slice & then put back in its own juices & reheat the next day.

                      Condiments, chutneys & pickled items as sides give a much broader taste. You can serve both sweet & savory items & let the guests choose.

                      1. re: cstout

                        Yup. That sounds perfect. Thanks for the reassurance.

                        1. re: cakrill

                          Oh yes, cook the ham in a roaster pan with the lid on, or a cast iron skillet with a lid or covered with foil. Covering is important so it won't dry out.

                          Basting with its own juices is important while baking. Do this often. Do not let bottom of pan get dry. Keep adding a cup or so of water during the cooking process. You want to have a good amount of liquid at all times. Cook with skin side up so fat rolls down over the meat & into bottom. I turn the ham upside down about the last half hour so skin is laying on bottom. This will soften the skin, release more fat juices & make the ham more moist. Some folks like to have a crackly skin though - your choice.

                          Good luck!