The top-rated recipe each time I visited Epicurious a while back was — seriously — How to Boil Water. Certainly this was a spoof at Conde Nast’s mega food site populated with recipes from its Bon Appetit and now-defunct Gourmet magazines. Just the same, it reminds me of this week’s Recipe of the Week topic: Baking a Ham.
Many Hams come pre-cooked and, really, need no cooking at all. But most Hams will benefit from baking. And if you don’t make big roasts that much (like me), you may need some reminders and tips.  Why bake? It brings out the natural juices and allows you to customize with a glaze, if you choose, to fit your dinner.
For a primer on Ham (the USDA recognizes four distinct classifications of Ham based on water to protein ratio), view this video from Alton Brown’s Food Network show, Good Eats.
After you’ve decided on which type you want to serve — city or country, fresh, bone-in, spiral sliced, etc. – follow these simple steps for the Best Baked Ham Dinner.

  1. Buy a quality Ham: Choose well by knowing what you’re buying. Alton Brown does a good job explaining it, but there’s good information on Ham at Wikipedia, too.
  2. Read the package: Most Hams you buy in your grocer’s case will come with some basic guidelines and instructions for cooking right on the label.
  3. Decide on a glaze: To glaze or not to glaze is a matter of personal taste (and some intense debate). Options range from fruity peach and pineapple, to adventurous honey mustard and hoisin sauce. Experiment with recipes from CDKitchen and Recipetips.com or go with a family favorite.
  4. Bake and check for doneness: One of my favorite kitchen tools is a digital probe thermometer. It is readable from outside the oven and alerts me when food is done. Consumer Reports rates them here.
  5. Enjoy! Slice and serve with your favorite sides. That’s another post, but please share your top picks with us.

While not exactly a no-brainer, it is easy to make a memorable Ham Dinner, whether it be holiday-related or for Sunday supper.

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