In most households, you have to stand guard over even the most basic ham so that snackers don't eat the main course. Honey baked ham is especially vulnerable to before-dinner stealth, though -- it's just that delicious. That makes it a perfect meat for sandwiches and appetizers, too. Preparing it is not difficult, and there are many variations in both glaze flavorings and the types of ham that you use. It's a favorite which can keep your family and guests surprised as you serve it a different way each time and extravagantly on holidays.
Start with a pre-cooked ham of 8-10 pounds -- most you find at the store are already cooked, but some aren't, and they take quite a while in the oven. A pre-cut ham spiral-sliced is a plus, too as it takes in the glaze so nicely. If you don't have one or want to slice it yourself later, you can score the ham in a checkerboard pattern before you glaze it. Since you're caramelizing the glaze, you should cover the roasting pan bottom with foil to avoid a nasty clean-up job or use a disposable one. Put the ham in cut face down. You'll heat the ham before glazing, about 15 minutes per pound at 250 degrees F until a meat thermometer inserted into the ham reads 135 degrees F. Make sure the glaze is ready by then.
Here's where the variety comes in. We'll start with a basic glaze recipe and offer some more options further on. Mix well together:
Take the ham out, preheat the oven to 425 degrees and in the meantime, brush on several coats of the glaze until it's uniformly thick. Put the glazed ham back into the oven for 15-20 minutes. The ham is ready when the meat thermometer reads 140 degrees, and there's a nice, brown finish on the glaze. Wait about 15 minutes before serving. You can use the juices from the pan to moisten the ham's outside if you like.
To your cup of honey and one-third cup of melted butter, add one-third cup of apricot jam, preferably a gourmet variety with nice chunks of apricot. Mix in two-thirds cup of packed brown sugar and one teaspoon of mustard powder or two tablespoons of Dijon mustard. Mix and use as your glaze for a rich, apricot taste or jazz it up with spices and garlic as listed in the basic recipe.
Use a half cup of red wine for this glaze along with a half cup of honey, two tablespoons of butter and a quarter cup of pineapple juice. Choose from the regular spice list and also nutmeg (one teaspoon or so) and ground ginger (a half teaspoon). Use a single tablespoon of Dijon mustard and a teaspoon and a half of black pepper. Mix everything but the Dijon in a saucepan and cook on medium while the butter melts, then mix in the mustard.
Gammon, known also as Virginia ham, gives your honey baked ham a bacon-like cured taste which makes it even more irresistible to some folks. If yours is precooked, proceed on course as you would with a regular precooked ham. This can include baked and cured hams. Otherwise, cook your Virginia ham or gammon as directed before beginning the glazing process.
This option is especially popular with dinner parties and other gatherings of adults, as children may question the more complex taste. For a more sophisticated herbal flavor, rosemary goes well with maple, dijon mustard and citrus flavors in your glaze. Just mix in fresh rosemary and consider using a sprig as a garnish underneath the ham when you serve it.
If you love honey glazed ham and want to try the taste another way, make these meatballs:
Mix the ingredients and divide into one-third cup-shaped portions. Cook the ham balls, covered with foil, on a greased baking pan. First, cook them 30 minutes at 350 degrees F. Brush with glaze and cook another 45 minutes until a meat thermometer reads 160 degrees. You can re-glaze along the way for a thicker coating.
If you cook the glazed ham in an iron skillet, you can bring vegetables such as asparagus along for the ride in the juices during the final phase of baking. Season them with salt and pepper as appropriate, and cut potatoes and other root vegetables to a size where they will cook quickly. Delicious!
Honey baked ham, no matter how you prepare the glaze, deserves a bit of special treatment for the side dishes. In addition to asparagus consider roasted vegetables, mashed cauliflower, glazed carrots, rosemary potatoes, sweet potatoes mashed or French fried, gourmet slaws and potato salad. Of course, leftovers will keep for a while so you can prepare delicious sandwiches or sliders from this special treat.
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