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Help a ham newbie out

So I think I'd like to take advantage of Easter sales, and buy a ham to make. Problem is, I have no idea what kind of ham to buy, and I've only had whole ham a few times in my life (our special occasion dinners growing up were always turkey or tri-tip). My SO likes honey baked hams from the store, but I'm not necessarily looking to replicate that, although it would be fine.

My store has "butt portion bone-in ham" on sale this week. Is that what I want to buy to do a whole ham roast? Any good ideas for glazes?

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  1. Make sure you don't buy a "ham and water product".

    I like to mix dijon mustard and brown sugar into a dry paste, smear it on, and wrap the ham tightly in foil before slowly baking it.

    This is a very simple and easy method; I'm sure others will have more complex ideas, if that is what you are looking for!

    2 Replies
    1. re: sandylc

      Simple and easy is usually the way I go for my first round with anything new :) I found this recipe from here on Chow, looks pretty similar to what you describe? http://www.chow.com/recipes/13715-hon...

      1. re: juliejulez

        I like Iron Chef (yes, those Iron Chefs) Brand Orange Sauce Glaze with Ginger. Its a little sweet (ok, its sweet), its orangy, it has a bit of spice heat to it.

        Typically we put the ham on a rack, cut or face side down and then I put either some apple cider, ginger ale, or coca cola in the roaster to provide a bit of steam to keep the meat from drying out. We let it bake at least a half hour to warm up and dry off before we put the first coat of glaze on. The bottle typically will glaze a ham 3-4 times and I use the entire bottle. Then if the ham came with one of those little candied sugar packets we put that on last.

        Anymore we do spirals, which are dryer - its true. But its just easier when you've got 20+ at Easter dinner to only have to cut the slices off the ham then to carve the ham.

    2. Here's recent NY Times article about picking a ham:


      I'm more of a raw country ham guy, but my family and I have found agreement on this city ham from Burger's:


      That ham may be a bit much for you at this early stage, but all of their ham products are probably worth tryin'

      My thoughts on preparation are: (a) Remember it's basically already cooked, so you're really just heating; (b) If you want a sweet glaze, apply just about any sweet substance - honey, sugar, molasses, jam, allfruit, etc. - in the last half hour of cooking; and (c) Don't buy a presliced ham, it will reduce the ease of cooking because it is more likely to dry out.

      5 Replies
      1. re: MGZ

        Thanks, that article was helpful, and the comments amused me :)

        And yes unfortunately $80 is a bit much for a ham for me (that's more than my entire week's grocery budget!), plus I think doing a half ham would be better... there's only 2 of us and while we both like ham, that would make for a bit too much in the leftover department!

        1. re: juliejulez

          Yeah, I'm doing a twenty pounder for two dozen adults and half that many kids (a turkey too). I do, however, think that they do solid products, with wide appeal, at reasonable prices for what they are. Perhaps, at some point, you might want to take a look at the Site. The smoked hog jowls are particularly interesting to try without a substantial investment.

          1. re: juliejulez

            Quote attributed to Dorothy Parker: "Eternity is two people and a ham."

            1. re: cookie monster

              I've heard and quoted that line many times and never before seen anyone offer attribution. I understood it to be an old southern colloquialism.

              1. re: MGZ

                Yes, the attribution may not be accurate. But I love the line regardless.

        2. I'm in a family of ham lovers! Nigella has a great recipe on line for ham. I just use the glaze most of the time. It has pineapple preserves, hot mustard and ginger in it. My darling sister in law declared it the best ham ever! I make ham salad for DH with the leftovers.

          1. I prefer the shank portion, I cook at 350 till it hits 140 degrees in the center, take out and glaze and place back at 425 for 15 min. I prep glaze with honey, brown sugar, spices and cook till thick then, spread on the ham for the last 15 min.

            1. "My store has "butt portion bone-in ham" on sale this week. Is that what I want to buy to do a whole ham roast?"

              Yes. Butt portion has more meat to bone than shank. Simple, basic recipes/methods are best.


              1 Reply
              1. re: Uncle Bob

                Great thank you for answering my question about that particular cut, sounds like it would be good to go!

              2. Socializing the Newbie Cook to Ham: Half a ham is big enough for this adventure---you don't need a whole ham unless you are feeding a crowd. Read the label that comes with your ham to see how long you need to bake it to get the meat done. Unwrap it over the sink as juice will be all over the floor otherwise. Put it in a big pan with sides at least a couple of inches high as more juice will cook out of the ham. Follow label directions for baking. If your ham starts looking like it's drying out or burning, put some foil over it like a tent. When it's cooked, take it out of the oven and set it on top of the stove or the counter. If there is any skin, cut under it and peel it off. Take a sharp knife and slice the fat on the ham both north-south and east-west so you score it into little squares. Stick a whole clove into each square plus a few more cloves for good measure. Now mix brown sugar with just enough mustard to wet the sugar and schmear it all over the fat. Return ham to oven and let it bake for about 20 minutes to glaze it. Spoon some of the sugary goo over the ham. Take ham out of oven and set on counter to cool. Once in a while spoon goo over ham.

                Enjoy the ham as sliced ham for dinner, ham sandwiches, ham and eggs, whatever. Keep foil over it in the refrigerator. After about a week, cut all remaining ham off the bone and freeze it in chunks to use in scalloped potatoes, baked beans, or whatever. Variously, you can chop it coarsely in the Cuisinart along with sweet pickles and mix this with mayonnaise and mustard to make Ground Ham for sandwiches or crackers. Save all the little ham bits as you can add them to green beans, dried beans, or greens for flavoring. Ditto the skin, if any. Use the bone to make Cuban Black Bean Soup or Navy Bean Soup (you can freeze the bone until you have time to make the soup). Every speck of your ham is usable. Deals at Christmas or Easter season are fantastic. I bought a half-ham today for $4.02 using the store coupon for $10 off any ham.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Querencia

                  Thank you this is very helpful. I especially like the term "sugary goo" :)

                2. A friend from church swears by boiling her ham in molasses. I do no have a specific recipe but am providing a link on ham which has a lot of information in it.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Ruthie789

                    I am a molasses freak so that intrigues me. Great link, thank you!

                    1. re: juliejulez

                      I have made a ham boiled in molasses and it was very good. You are welcome!

                  2. juliejulez --

                    From The Joy of Cooking, I forget which edition -

                    "Eternity: two people and a ham."

                    Are you entertaining for the holiday? If not, or maybe even if, prepare to freeze. We bought a half shank for four people last year, and finished the last frozen bits in October. But ooo we had some tasty ham dishes!

                    I bought a quarter ham for this year, and am regretting it a little. :)

                    1. My favorite ham recipe still is the Cooks Illustrated; using a shank-style, natural juices ham remove the outer plastic bag it comes in but keep the internal plastic bag in a container of hot water for 90 minutes to raise the internal temp (raising the internal temp is what keeps the ham from drying out). You then place it in a roaster bag after you glaze and reheat it on about 250 for 1-1.5 hours then you remove the plastic bag, glaze and with a 350 degree oven, let the glaze bake onto the ham (about 10 minutes). I'm sure the recipe is online somewhere but that recipe STILL gets me raves from folks about how delicious and juicy my ham is. The glaze usually is some apricot jam and brown sugar and pineapple juice to thin it out (the jam sticks to the ham better than molasses and isn't as strong a taste).