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I want to make a holiday ham--no idea where to begin. Please help!

Hello wise chowhounders!

I didn't grow up with a tradition of eating ham, but I recall going to a friend's holiday feast many years ago where a delicious ham was the star of the show. I'm thinking that I'd like to try making a ham for the holidays this year. But I am so confused about all the different types that I'm not even sure what I'm looking for. Bone-in? Spiral sliced? Fresh? Cured? Country?

I'd appreciate any tips or recipes. Thanks so much in advance!

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  1. Easiest way to go is a spiral ham. I prefer boneless.
    Buy it, read how to make glaze that's included, schmear on glaze and cook according to instructions that come with it. You're really just gently heated it through. There is no overdone or underdone or omg! who wants medium and who wants rare how long should it rest?!
    Foolproof and delicious.

    2 Replies
    1. re: monavano

      Does the bone give the meat more flavor? Or does it just get in the way of cutting the ham? The ham I remember was more like a roast, so I don't think it was spiral sliced. Do you go for spiral because it's easier? Thanks so much!

      1. re: citizenc3

        I think the bone gets in the way. Now, if you're looking to save it for something later, then go for it, but I just love how each piece easily gives itself up in a boneless spiral.
        I usually eat the darn stuff until my fingers turn into little lady fingers.

    2. The only way to ruin a ham is to overcook and make it jerky. But, if you get a good ham you don't even need to glaze it.

      I love spiral-sliced ham. The ones from Costco are great (and good priced), Honeybaked Hams are good and pricey but foolproof.

      3 Replies
      1. re: eperdu

        Oooh! Thanks for the tip about Costco. I'll be sure to look next time I'm there.

        1. re: citizenc3

          Agree that the Kirkland brand ham is quite delicious.

        2. re: eperdu

          The one time I had Costco's I found it too salty, as is the case with most spiral-sliced hams. I am a fan of Honeybaked. And there's nothing to do but warm it up and dig in.

        3. We do a "free holiday ham dinner" every December with the free ham we got from November grocery shopping. It started out as a joke bc I was planning to make it for just the 2 of us and my husband scrambled to get our friends over on like 2 hours notice for dinner.

          I used this recipe then and I still use it now: http://m.epicurious.com/recipes/food/... We get half hams and shank hams... Pre-cooked and smoked ones. You just heat them up with some pineapple juice in the pan and then make the pineapple-mustard sauce. Soooo good!

          That's what I'll be making on Dec 15!

          1. You can use Alton Brown's technique http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/al...

            Basically score the ham and wrap it or put it in a baking bag. I like the baking bag, myself. Put it in a 250° F oven for a few hours. After this period, raise the temperature to 350. and bast with glaze every 20 minutes for an hour or so.

            Alton's glaze is good but I prefer this one.

            Maple Orange Glaze

            3/4 cup maple syrup
            1/2 cup orange marmalade
            2 tablespoons unsalted butter
            1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
            1 teaspoon ground black pepper
            1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

            Combine all ingredients in saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until thick and and reduced to 1 cup.

            I hope you enjoy it.

            Oh I usually use a spiral sliced, bone in, ham. You can go with a butt end if you want to minimize the bone or the shank end if you want to make soup with the bone.

            1. I can see the appeal of spiral cut hams as they are easy to cut and eat. But I've always preferred a bone-in ham that is not pre-cut. I made a sauce of dijon mustard, a touch of brown sugar, garlic and rosemary, coat the ham lightly, cover tightly with foil, and cook per instructions. Goal is to warm throughly. After it rests, I cut off hunks, then turn those into thick slices for serving. You're left with a bone that has lots of meat still on it. Toss it in the freezer as it is perfect for a bean-based soup on some future day.

              1. If you are remembering more of a roast type ham you are referring to a 'bone-in' ham be roasted in the oven. If you have a butcher you can go to tell him/her what you want the end result to remind you of. The butcher hopefully has different cuts to chose from. Buy the more expensive cut by all means. There are basically three cuts to chose from. Roast ham is pretty hard to screw up as long as you are very carful to keep an eye on the internal temp and consider the 'carry over' temp. rise and then to tent for the appropriate time depending on the weight of the ham. You want the fatty bits to be nice and hot but they don't need to be scorching hot. For me I cook a roast ham like any other roast meat: 200F......low and slow. Then crank up the oven to screaming hot and watch the skin turn golden. Then remove and rest. (I know, I'm a 'broken record' on this subject) LOL

                1. While I dearly love country ham, it doesn't sound like that's the flavor you're looking for--country ham is usually quite salty (as opposed to "city" or sugar-cured ham), can be too strongly flavored for some folks.
                  That said, I recall when Mr. Pine and I were struggling newlywed students: only thing we could find with which to cut into the bone-in "city" ham we had bought was a hacksaw! The pictures we took still make us laugh ourselves silly--he's wearing bib overalls (on Christmas day, no less) with bits of ham flying everywhere.

                  1. A thick, crumbly paste of brown sugar and dijon mustard is simple and delicious.

                    1. I don't care for anybody's spiral cut ham...tasteless IMO....
                      Not a fan of butt portions or shank portions.....

                      I buy Whole bone-In hams....Smoke on the Pit ....or bake if your prefer,

                      Cook long enough to remove "added water" for a nice dense ham texture. ...Instead of a watery spongy one.


                      1. My dh uses a Gouldans mustard to slather over a ham, then puts a can of pineapple chunks patted on (drained), a 1/8 cup of honey or pancake syrup, and a touch of, two teaspoons or so, of cayenne pepper, wrap in foil. He puts the ham on a large piece of heavy foil first. Then seasons it,. Then bakes it or puts it on the grill for a few (four or a bit more) hours. The ham is wonderful and always gone before the turkey. lol... I am sure others out there have the same or similar recipe. Far as I know it is southern..... haha
                        We use a Cure81 every chance we can.