I’m a ham junkie. As in — can’t get enough. Could be because I was raised a stone’s throw from Smithfield, Virginia and it was a staple in our house. Whatever the reason, I’m utterly smitten with the salty, savory bite of this piece of pig.
I know for many people, ham is a holiday item — Christmas, Easter, that sort of thing. I have to say that I would never wait that long for a baked ham. First because they’re really inexpensive for how much yield you get. And second, because they are sooooo simple to make. No, really.
I should preface this by saying that I’m not talking about those dry-aged hams that hang in the butchers shop and require a week of soaking (and scrubbing) before you can think about putting it in the oven. That requires patience and dedication that I’ve only mustered twice in my life.
Confession: Back in my early twenties, when I was living on my own in a tiny, one bedroom condo, I decided to make a ham for my boyfriend. I’d never made one before — but how hard could it be? At the market, all I could find were cooked, smoked hams. Remembering my mother cooking her hams for 2-3 hours, I knew I didn’t want a pre-cooked ham. So I asked the butcher for an uncooked ham. He said, oh you want a “fresh” ham — a “picnic” ham. I smiled with satisfaction. “Yes, that’s what I want.”
At home I prepped the ham the way my mother had, placing it in a roasting pan with a little water, sealing it tightly with tin foil, roasting it and pulling it out half an hour before it was done to add the glaze. But something didn’t seem quite right. It didn’t have that pinkish-hue. It didn’t have that smokey aroma. Undaunted, I pressed on — all the while feeling a persistent something’s-not-right niggle in the back of my head.
Whip up the easiest-ever oven-roasted ham
When it was time to carve, the ham was perfectly cooked, but again — their was no smoky flavor, no pinkish flesh. It tasted like a pork roast. And indeed it was a pork roast. Because if it’s not smoked (thus, cooked) it’s not a ham. It’s a h-ork. I was more than disappointed and utterly humiliated at my (now obvious) mistake.
Live and learn. The h-ork was good. But this ham is better. Best of all, your hands-on time for this feast is less than 20 minutes — and that includes trimming and glazing. I recommend it for the holidays or any weekend.
baked holiday ham
- 1 7- pound semi-boneless half smoked ham
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1/3 cup dijon mustard
- 1/3 cup apricot jam or preserves
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Trim any excess fat from ham. Place ham into a roasting pan. Add water to the bottom of the pan. Cover tightly with aluminum foil so that no steam can escape. Place in the oven and cook for 1 1/2 hours.
Meanwhile in a small bowl combine the dijon mustard, jam and brown sugar. Stir to combine. Set aside.
When ham has cooked for 90 minutes remove from the oven. Take off the aluminum foil and glaze the ham with half of the dijon mustard mixture. Return the ham to the oven for 15 minutes. Spoon the remaining glaze over the ham and return to the oven to cook for an additional 15-20 minutes.
Remove from oven and tent with aluminum foil. Let the meat rest for 5-10 minutes before carving.