A Helpful Guide to Baking Ham
Everyone loves the savory, mouth-watering smell of baking ham, be it at the table for Christmas dinner, at a Thanksgiving feast, or just in the dining room for a delicious family meal. In many parts of the country, preparing ham has even become something of an art form, with different methods for baking depending on what area of the country you are in. This article will help you with baking ham and making it as succulent as it can possibly be with some good guidance on the process, materials, and ingredients you should use with your dish.
Ham is one of those foods that are classic dishes all over the world. In America, baked ham in particularly is especially popular for major holidays, most notably Thanksgiving and Christmas. There is just something about a ham baking in the oven, complete with all the trimmings and sides, that jumps out at us and invades our senses with nostalgia and memories – and hunger, too. I remember always having a nice, baked ham glazed with brown sugar for my family’s Christmas dinner, and the memory of baking ham makes me think of good times with the family.
To begin baking your own ham, you have to first purchase one. There are, generally speaking, two types of ham: dry-cured ham, and wet-cured ham. Dry-cured ham is generally either smoked or rubbed all over with salt and brine and left to dry. This results in a strong, salty taste (like with what we know as country ham). Smoked ham is also a form of dry curing, although the final taste is not as salty. People usually do not use dry-cured ham as dinner hams. What they mostly prefer to use is wet-cured ham. This type of ham is cured so that it retains a lot of moisture, and typically comes either fully cooked or partially cooked. This results in a juicy and flavorful taste, but you have to take care to keep the ham refrigerated.
Once you have selected your ham, thaw it out in the refrigerator (if frozen) or in a pan of cold water. Never thaw pork products on your kitchen counter. Then, preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and place the ham in a foil-lined baking pan. Then, take your favorite glaze and brush the ham with it with one good layer. What are good glazes for baking ham?
My personal favorite glaze is brown sugar and honey. Mix equal amounts of brown sugar and honey together to form a sweet glaze and brush it over the outside (rind) of the ham. Another popular type is light corn syrup mixed with your favorite fruit preserves, such as apple, apricot, peach, or muscadine. This creates a fruity flavor that is also quite sweet (although not as sweet as the above sugar and honey concoction). If you want something more tangy, try turning your baked ham into a BBQ baked ham by glazing it with a light coat of mesquite BBQ sauce.
Once you have initially glazed it, put it in the oven for about an hour. Then, take another layer of glaze and put it on the ham before sticking it back in the oven for another half-hour. You will know it is finished when the internal temperature reaches a minimum of 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, just remove and allow 15-20 minutes for cooling and solidifying before you carve (and if you carve one with an inner bone, carve at right angles to the bone).
There you have it. Hopefully this guide to baking ham has given you some great ideas of how to prepare your ham for your next holiday feast. Enjoy!