Growing up in the Midwest surrounded by great home cooks, I was told that turkey was for Thanksgiving and Christmas and ham was for Easter. And that no ham is worth it’s salt if it’s not glazed with a mixture of crushed pineapple in syrup + a can of 7-Up. Thankfully my kitchen mentors left out the fluorescent red maraschino cherries (those were reserved for the uber-sugary ‘kiddie cocktails’ served at the kiddie table – because there wasn’t going to be enough sugar once dessert rolled around?! I think my grandparents secretly loved sending their adult children home with kids totally cracked out on sugar at the end of the night). Anyways, back to those culinary ‘rules’ of yesteryear.
Rule #1 – You HAVE to have turkey on Thanksgiving. Myth. Ham is a perfectly delicious and easy-to-prepare protein for your holiday table. Besides that, it’s way less intimidating for new cooks to make a ham (as they’re almost always fully-cooked and just need glazing and reheating) than it is to try and wrangle a big naked bird out of it’s package and into the pan without getting turkey juice everywhere. And then there’s that part about not overcooking the darn thing like that turkey made famous in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Yeah, that one. Don’t get me wrong, I like turkey but I really like ham for it’s super tasty leftovers and sometimes turkey can be sooooooo dry.
Rule #2 – Glaze needs to be made with a boatload of sugar. Another myth! This recipe proves that you don’t need a cup of brown sugar to get a nice sticky glaze on that ham of yours – just a little orange juice and a quick simmer. Sorry, grandma.
Let’s talk ham
All hams are not created equal. In fact, many hams are pumped full of salt and sugar and water and preservatives – things no one needs more of during the holidays. And if you’re watching your sugar intake or doing a Whole30 that means a regular ham would be off the menu. Noooooooo!
Thankfully our friends at Pederson’s Natural Farms makes a No Sugar, Uncured Smoked Boneless Ham that’s also humanely raised and preservative-free. And we’ve got a simple 4-ingredient glaze made with only fruit juice and spices that’s the perfect compliment to this gorgeous spiral-sliced beauty. You can get in on the glazed ham action too by ordering your holiday ham (and other necessities like bacon, breakfast sausage and more) and have it delivered right to your door thanks to The Simple Grocer.
A general rule of thumb is to figure 6 – 8 ounces of uncooked ham per person. So this means if you’re feeding 10 adults with side dishes you’ll want to plan on buying a 5-pound fully-cooked ham. This may seem like a lot but the protein is often the first thing to get gobbled up and you’re going to want leftovers for sandwiches, soup, omelettes and more.
Like most things in the kitchen, there isn’t one ‘right’ way to cook a ham (but there are BETTER ways!) The method I use is to cook it ‘face down’ on a rack in roasting pan with just a bit of water. I cover it for the first half of the cooking time then remove the cover and baste with the glaze every 15 minutes or so until an instant read thermometer inserted in the center registers 140°F and the glaze is sticky and caramelized. For a 5 pound ham, the recommended cooking time is 17-21 minutes per pound, of course, ovens and hams will vary so your best bet is to check early and check often and use a thermometer.
You can learn more about how to choose the right size ham and how long to cook it here.
Look at those gorgeous spiral slices…it’s almost too much.
Baking a ham might seem like a monumental undertaking but trust me, it’s not. In fact, it really couldn’t be simpler which makes this Orange glazed Ham great not only for holidays, potlucks and get-togethers but also for a weekend meal prep. I love having ham to add to egg bakes or soup or just rolling it up in a lettuce leaf with spicy mustard for a quick-and-easy lunch option. I also freeze any uneaten ham in 2-4 ounce portions so I can quickly reheat it in a covered skillet with a little water added to it. And I think you’ll agree with me when you see how deliciously easy this recipe is.
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