Ham is traditional for Easter and for Christmas dinner in the United States. But as with all big chunks of meat, many people are intimidated by it. After all, a large ham can cost more than $70; that alone is enough to scare anyone who wants to serve it hot and juicy. So what's the best way to heat fully cooked ham?
True hams are made from the leg of the pig; the butt end or shank end is cured by wet curing in a brine solution or dry curing before smoking or cooking. The butt end has more meat and fat, and the shank end has sweeter meat. Hams are sold boneless or bone-in. Some people think that the bone-in hams have more flavor; the choice is up to you. Remember, these instructions are for reheating a fully-cooked ham. An uncooked ham is a fresh ham and must be cooked to 160 F before eating.
Spiral Sliced Hams
Spiral sliced hams are delicious cold, but if you want to reheat them, the instructions are on the package. Place the ham cut-side-down on heavy-duty aluminum foil and wrap the ham thoroughly. Or, use an oven roasting bag; follow instructions on the bag for preparation. Bake in a preheated 325 F oven for 10 to 14 minutes per pound or until a meat thermometer registers 140 F. Remove from oven and let sit for 10 minutes before serving. If the ham came with extra glaze, follow the package directions for adding it and cooking the glaze. To glaze this type of ham, turn the oven to 400 F, brush the ham with the glaze and bake for 10 to 15 minutes until the glaze is browned and bubbling. Let stand for 10 minutes before slicing to serve.
Slow Cooker Method for Heating Ham
Hams emerge very moist and tender from the slow cooker. Make sure that the ham will fit into your slow cooker. Place the ham in the appliance and add the glaze ingredients. You can also just add some Coke or Pepsi, chicken broth or water; about 1 cup will do it. Cover and cook on low for 5-8 hours until ham is thoroughly heated. If you want to glaze the ham, place on a broiler pan and cover with glaze; broil 10" from the heat for 10 to 15 minutes, watching carefully until the glaze is cooked.
The goal is to reheat the ham without drying it out. The best way to do this is to place the ham on a rack in a roasting pan. Add water to the bottom of the pan and cover it tightly with foil. Bake at 325 F for 18 to 20 minutes per pound until a meat thermometer registers 140 F. Unwrap the ham and apply the glaze; increase the heat to 400 F and bake for 15 to 20 minutes longer until the glaze is burnished.
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Grill Method to Heat Ham
It's difficult to grill a whole or half ham because the method uses such dry high heat; however, ham steaks or slices can be wonderful grilled. If you do want to grill a large ham, use the indirect cooking method and make sure that the coals burn down to a gray ash coating before you add the ham.
You do have to carefully read the label of the ham you purchase to make sure you prepare it properly. Most hams sold in the supermarket are fully-cooked, but check the label to be sure. In this case, you are just reheating the ham, and the most important consideration is to make sure it doesn't dry out.
What About Glazing?
Glazes, of course, add more flavor to ham and make the meat look gorgeous. Glazes can range from a simple brush of maple syrup to complicated mixtures made of sugars and seasonings. They should be added during the last 20 to 30 minutes of heating time so they do not burn. You might like using a combination of brown sugar, maple syrup, and Dijon mustard. If you'd like, you can score the ham surface and insert whole cloves in each intersection. This adds wonderful flavor and makes for a beautiful presentation.