Easter Dinner Baked Ham
Baked ham is a classic for Easter dinner and we've put together a guide to help you choose and prepare the perfect ham for your celebration.
Baked ham is not only a tried-and-true classic for Easter dinner it's a versatile main course that pairs perfectly with a wide variety of flavors. For the magazine's Easter menu, we chose a spiral-sliced ham and made a simple pineapple-mint chutney to complement the naturally sweet flavors.
Our 10-pound ham was hardwood-smoked and honey cured. It also came with a pre-prepared glaze, but we preferred to preserve the natural sweetness of the ham itself, so we chose to rinse it off before baking. We added 1/2 cup water before wrapping the ham tightly in foil and baking it at 325° for 1 hour and 20 minutes. We allowed the ham to rest for about 15 minutes before carving.
There are quite a few different cuts of ham for sale in the supermarket today and choosing the right one can present a bit of a challenge. For the best flavor and texture, we recommend purchasing a bone-in ham and we've included a brief rundown on the different types available.
Most supermarket hams are mildly flavored and have been brined in a solution of water, salt, sugar and spices, then lightly smoked. If you're willing to pay a little more, the pricier brands are generally smoked for longer periods using special woods like maple or cherry and extra spices in the brine, resulting in a more flavorful end product.
Bone-in hams are available in several sizes: whole, half from the shank end, or half from the butt end. Whole hams generally range from 10 to 18 pounds, half hams from 5 to 10 pounds, and spiral sliced hams from 7 to 10 pounds. Plan on about 1/2 pound of bone-in ham per guest. This should allow for generous portions and some tasty leftovers.
Fully Cooked, Bone-In Smoked Ham - Butt Portion
The butt half comes from the upper portion of the leg. It's frequently available semi-boneless, where the aitch (or pelvic) bone has been removed, but the femur remains intact. This cut is flavorful and tender, has less connective tissue than the shank, and is relatively easy to carve.
Fully Cooked, Bone-In Smoked Ham - Shank Portion
The shank half is from the lower portion of the leg. It's shaped a little like a funnel and retains its portion of the femur, plus a shank bone. It's very flavorful and not hard to carve, but it does tend to be a little tougher than the butt half.
Fully Cooked, Bone-In Spiral Sliced Ham
Spiral-sliced hams have been pre-sliced in a spiral pattern around the center bone. They are frequently sold covered with a pre-prepared glaze (which we recommend rinsing off) and are quite easy to carve, but extra care should be taken when heating to ensure that the meat doesn't dry out.
How To Cook
When heating a fully cooked ham, the most important thing to keep in mind is moisture. Be sure to add water, cover the ham with foil and seal it tightly to create a steaming environment. Only uncover to add your glaze during the last 10 to 12 minutes of cook time.
For Bone-In Smoked Ham (Butt, Shank and Whole):
Remove the ham from the refrigerator one hour ahead. Place on a rack in a roasting pan with 3/4-inch of water in the bottom. Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil and cook at 350° until the internal temperature of the ham reaches 145°. This would be about 15 minutes per pound for half hams and about 18 to 20 minutes per pound for whole hams. Let the ham stand for 15 minutes before carving.
For Bone-In Spiral Sliced Ham:
Remove the ham from the refrigerator one hour ahead. Remove all packaging (rinse off glaze if desired) and place the ham, cut side down on a sheet (or 2) of heavy duty foil. Draw the foil up around the sides of the ham, add 1/2 cup water, seal tightly and place in a roasting pan. Cook in a 325° oven for 10 minutes per pound.
How To Glaze (all cuts)
Remove the ham from the oven, increase the temperature to 400° and unwrap the ham. Brush with glaze and return to the oven just long enough for the glaze to caramelize - 10 to 12 minutes.