Go retro with this Brown Sugar Baked Ham with Pineapple! Massage brown sugar and spices into the ham 24 hours before you serve it. Cover with pineapple, and bake slow and low for a juicy, succulent Easter or Christmas ham.
Bakeware and platters for the photos in this post provided by Le Creuset.
I have to admit my brother, Aaron, is the ham maker in our family. He uses a hybrid version of my grandmother’s old fashioned ham, dotted with pineapple rings and cherries, and my cousin Edward’s approach of thoroughly rubbing the whole thing down with loads of brown sugar–no last-minute glazing required.
This ham is easy, loved by all, and requested every year for Christmas and Easter. That’s a winning recipe in my book! For this version, I added a little ground clove to the sugar, and I skipped the cherries, but feel free to add them if you want to go retro.
WHICH HAM IS THE RIGHT HAM?
- Don’t buy a dinner ham. Those are usually a compressed version of ham, similar to deli meat. The flavors won’t penetrate, and you’ll be sad.
- Also, don’t buy spiral-cut hams. Spiral-cut hams save slicing time, but the USDA recommends eating them cold because heating pre-sliced ham causes them to dry out.
- Go for the bone! Bone-in hams are more flavorful and tender than their bone-free or spiral-cut counterparts. They also make for a nice presentation.
HOW MUCH HAM DO YOU NEED?
When selecting the proper size ham, keep in mind it’s nice to have some to send home with guests, as well has having enough for leftovers for yourself for a couple of days.
I prefer bone-in hams, as mentioned above. They taste better, cook nicer, and you can use the bone to make ham and potato soup. Remember, a bone adds weight, but you can’t eat it.
I like to estimate about 3/4 of a pound per person. With that as my guide, a 15-pound bone-in ham will provide a meal for 10 guests, with enough remaining for leftovers.
The USDA recommends:
- Bone-in ham: 1/3 to 1/2 pound per serving per person
- Boneless: 1/4 to 1/2 pound per person
WHY COOK HAM AT ALL?
Ham is the cured leg of pork. They can be fresh, cured, smoked, or cooked. If you are in the United States, most likely the ham you are buying for your holiday table has been cured and is labeled ready to eat. Hams that still need to be cooked will have safe handling instructions.
Our goal with cooking a cured ham is to warm it up and season it to create an enhanced dining experience.
HOW TO SCORE A HAM
Score the ham to allow the fat to render and for the flavor to penetrate into the meat.
Using a sharp chef’s knife, cut slits through the skin of the ham only 1/4-inch-deep, crossing the entire ham. Make each row about an inch apart; then repeat the pattern across the original slits, so you have a diamond pattern.
GIVE YOUR HAM A REST
This ham is best when it has 24 hours to sit in its brown sugar bath. The saltiness of the ham draws the sugar into the meat and creates a tender, sweet, and salty flavor explosion that is only enhanced by time.
If you don’t have an “overnight” to spare, then rub the ham with brown sugar at least eight hours before you plan to cook your ham.
If timing and a busy schedule dictates you must cook the ham right away without the additional curing time, then might I suggest our glazed baked ham.
HOW LONG AND AT WHAT TEMPERATURE TO BAKE HAM
Low and slow is the name of the game when it comes to creating a juicy, succulent roasted ham.
- Bone-in: 325°F allow for 15-18 minutes per pound
- Boneless: 325°F allow for 10-15 minutes per pound
HOW DO YOU SLICE HAM?
Slicing a bone-in, whole, or half ham can take a little practice. Just remember, you’re feeding people who are happy you are feeding them. Ham slices need not be perfect.
- Transfer the ham to a cutting board.
- Use a carving fork to stabilize the meat as you cut it.
- Use a sharp knife.
- Start at one end, and cut thin slices until you reach the bone. Cut along it. Remove a large wedge of meat. Set it on the cutting board. Cut the wedge into slices.
- Cut the remaining wedge of meat away from the bone. Cut into slices.
- As you slice, put the slices back in the roasting pan with the warm juices. When everything is sliced, arrange it on a serving platter.
- Save the bone for broth or soup.
HOW TO KEEP LEFTOVERS
Once you’ve high-fived your partner for pulling off a holiday dinner that will go down in holiday dinner history as the best one ever, eyeball the amount of ham you have remaining and determine your next pork-centric move.
If you only have enough for a small amount of leftovers, keep the sliced ham in the fridge for about three to five days, or you can keep in the freezer for one to two months. I like to pour the juices from the roasting pan over the sliced ham before I freeze it. That way, as I thaw and reheat it, it doesn’t dry out.
HOW TO USE UP YOUR LEFTOVERS
- Dice and add to mac and cheese.
- Breakfast on the brain? Ham is a great in strata or potato hash.
- Ham sandwiches are always an easy sell.
- Ham and potato soup
Best Side Dishes to go with Ham
- Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes
- Radish Salad
- Steamed Asparagus
- Fingerling Potatoes
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