Today is the first day of Spring but you would not know it from looking outside my window. The fourth nor’easter of the month is hidden behind the current dusting of baby snowflakes. Despite the unpredictable weather, I love spring. Here in the Hudson Valley it arrives just in time to boost up our winter weary mood. At this time of year, I search for that first bright green blade of grass, or the first crocus leaves pushing towards the sun under a bed of winter debris, and seeing fuzzy fresh buds ready to bust open and leaf out. Witnessing nature wake up after its winter nap makes me feel like a kid given free run of a toy store, excitedly scurrying from flower bed to wooded acre not knowing where to first look.
Sadly, there are no spring blooms yet, so my focus is inside, planning our meals for spring celebrations and family gatherings. In my family, cured ham is a favorite choice for a spring or Easter dinner served with pineapple stuffing, a green vegetable such as Asparagus with Orange Mayonnaise and a green salad. I am not sure if my family uses ham as an excuse for pineapple stuffing, or the other way around. Either way, ham and pineapple stuffing make a mandatory appearance for our Easter dinner.
How to cook a Spiral Sliced Ham
Nothing could be easier than cooking up a cured ham. Essentially all you need to do is heat it in the oven and make a glaze. Unfortunately, if one is not careful the ham will dry out while cooking in the oven, especially a spiral sliced ham. After a couple of dried out hams, I adopted the technique created by Cooks Illustrated for heating up spiral-sliced ham. It has a two-step heating process. The first step requires a container large enough for the ham to soak in. With the second step requiring a large oven bag for roasting the ham.
This technique was created with the understanding, that the less time the ham roasts in the oven, the less likely it will dry out and over cook. To gently encourage the process along, the ham soaks (with its plastic covering still intact) in hot tap water for 90 minutes. After soaking the ham in hot water and removing the plastic coverings, the ham gets sealed in a large oven bag. This cooking method seals in any juices and keeps the ham moist.
Cooks Illustrated recommends heating the spiral sliced ham in the oven bag until it reaches an internal temperature of 100°F (38°C). Then open and roll down the oven bag and baste the ham with a glaze. At this point you only need to cook the ham until the glaze heats up and gets sticky.
I find the 100°F (38°C) is on the cool side of warm and I like my ham slightly warmer. Cooks Illustrated reasoning for stopping at the 100 degree mark is cooking the ham longer will dry it out. Plus, ham tastes delicious either hot or at room temperature. Though, I read on the Reynolds Oven Bag link they recommend cooking to 140°F (60°C). This high temperature could easily dry out a spiral sliced ham. However, I believe there is a happy medium in the middle at 120°F (49°C).
Glaze for Spiral Sliced Ham
For the glaze I mixed and simmered some orange marmalade and leftover canned pineapple juice from the pineapple stuffing. I also mixed in Dijon mustard, brown sugar, rum, ground clove, cayenne pepper and cinnamon. It sounds like the works, but each ingredient adds a little more depth and blends well together. The amount of spice is just a pinch of each, so it is not overpowering. I also believe sweet sauces taste better when cut with some heat.
The glaze is multi-dimensional. In addition to coating the spiral sliced ham, I mix it with pan juices for a pan sauce. Additionally, I like the glaze mixed with some grainy mustard making a condiment to serve with the ham. Feel free to adjust the amounts of each ingredient but remember you need enough to use in three different ways.
Need a dessert? Make my Pavolva with Kiwi, Berries and Passion Fruit Glaze.
Left Over Recipe Ideas for Spiral Sliced Ham
Add chopped ham to a pasta dinner for another family favorite treat.
Make a cheese omelet and add some chopped ham with the cheese or your choice.
Add ham to my Onion Tart for a recipe similar to Quiche Loraine.
There is nothing like a good ham and Swiss cheese sandwich on good crusty or whole grain bread. Spread the bread with some Dijon mustard (or leftover mustard from your ham dinner) and mayonnaise, then add some crispy lettuce and you are good to go. Or make a Cuban Sandwich.
Spiral-Sliced Ham with Orange Pineapple Glaze
A fool-proof method for making a moist spiral sliced ham and enough glaze to add to pan juices and extra mustard on the side. This technique is borrowed from Cooks Illustrated recipe for Glazed Spiral Sliced Ham. The ham is slowly warmed up in a water bath then heated in the oven. I basted the ham with an orange pineapple glaze for a sweet and slightly spicy seasoning. The ground cayenne is optional.
A container large enough to hold the ham with water.
A large oven bag for roasting. See link in blog post.
- 8-10 lb Spiral Sliced bone t half Ham butt or shank end
- Orange Pineapple Glaze
- ½ cup (140 g) orange marmalade or peach or apricot jam
- 2 TB (27 g) brown sugar
- 4 TB (34 g) Dijon mustard
- 2 TB dark rum brandy, or bourbon
- 4 TB pineapple juice apple juice/ orange juice
- 1/8 tsp ground clove
- 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
- Fresh ground black pepper to taste
- Dash ground cinnamon
Cooking the ham
Place the ham, still in its sealed plastic covering, in a container large enough to fit the ham and cover the entire ham with water. Add enough hot tap water to completely cover the ham. Rest on the counter for 45 minutes. Drain the water and fill the container again with hot tap water and rest for another 45 minutes.
Meanwhile preheat the oven to 250°F / 120°C / Gas Mark 1/2 and place the rack at the lowest position.
After the ham has warmed up in its water bath for an hour and a half, drain out the water then remove the ham from its plastic cover. Check to see if there is a plastic disk over the bone or other plastic covers, and remove it. Place the ham, cut side down into a large oven bag. Gather up the ends and tie together just above the top of the ham. Make 4 two-inch (5 cm) slits in the oven bag, just a couple of inches down from the tied end and placed equidistant around the circumference of the bag. One on each side of the ham. Place the ham on a roasting pan then place on the rack in the oven. Roast until the internal temperature reaches 100°F (38°C), about an hour and a half depending on the size of your ham. It roasts 10 minutes a pound.
Remove the ham from the oven and turn up the temperature to 350°F / 175°C / Gas Mark 4. Open the oven bag and roll the sides down to expose the ham. Baste the ham with about a third of the glaze and return the ham to the oven. If the glaze is too thick warm it up over medium heat until it thins out. Bake until the glaze is sticky and congealed, about 10-15 minutes.
Remove the ham from the oven and place on a cutting board. Loosely cover the ham with aluminum foil and let it rest for 15 minutes.
Carve the ham and serve with the sauce and or country style Dijon mustard.
Make the Orange Pineapple Glaze
While the ham is roasting, combine the ingredients to a small sauce pan set over medium heat. Stir the glaze until it reaches a simmer. Taste and adjust the seasoning to your tastes. Simmer until the glaze thickens, about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and set aside.
Make the pan juices
While the ham is resting on the carving board, add about a third of the glaze with 4 tablespoons of pan juices to a sauce pan over medium high heat. Simmer until the juices thicken slightly. Taste and adjust the seasoning. For a smooth pan sauce, strain the sauce through a fine mesh strainer into a serving container. Or keep it chunky.
Make the Orange Glaze Mustard
Add 3 TB of mustard to 1 TB of the glaze in a small bowl. Stir to mix. Taste and adjust with more or less mustard and glaze to suit your taste.
Baste any remaining glaze over the ham before carving.
© 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.