Avoid These Common Ham Mistakes This Easter

By Hunter Lewis, Janet McCracken and Mary-Frances Heck, Bon Appétit

Photo by Craig CutlerPhoto by Craig CutlerAny holiday that revolves around an centerpiece dish (ahem, turkey) can be stressful. Easter is all about the ham. Unfortunately, preparing this piece of meat isn't always straightforward, so we asked the test kitchen for a little advice.

Don't Buy Just Any Old Ham

It's Easter, not just another Sunday meal. Call your butcher to reserve a good-quality smoked bone-in ham instead of buying from the supermarket. If that doesn't work, there's still time to order from d'Artagnan.com (they'll even ship overnight). Whether it's bone-in or partially deboned, order a ham with some kind of bone in it. It will give you a sense of where to take the ham's temperature to determine doneness (see below), plus, that leftover bone will bring a soup or pot of beans to the next level. Also: Plan to buy at least 1 lb. of meat per person so you'll have plenty of leftovers.

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Don't Skip the Liquid

Gently cook the ham with at least 1/2 cup of water, wine, or stock in the pan and cover it with foil to make sure the ham won't dry out (until you've applied the glaze--the the foil comes off).

Don't Use the Glaze Packet

The glaze that comes with the ham is garbage. Throw it out and make your own. Remember our Christmas ham? That glaze works for this holiday, too.

Don't Glaze Too Early

To avoid burning the glaze, apply it 15-30 minutes before taking it out of the oven, and take a peek once in a while to make sure it's not burning.

Don't Be Shy With that Thermometer

Hams are often already cooked (they're usually smoked and boiled or baked), so don't go past an internal temperature of 145 degrees--it'll dry out. Stick a thermometer deep into the ham near the bone to get an accurate reading.

Don't Dig Right In

For the ham to be juicy, it needs some time to rest like any other piece of meat. Let it sit for about 20 minutes once it's out of the oven.

Old-Fashioned Ham with Brown Sugar and Mustard Glaze

Recipe by Scott Peacock

10 servings

Ingredients

1 10 pound smoked ham with rind, preferably shank end

1 cup unsweetened apple juice or apple cider

1/2 cup whole grain Dijon mustard

2/3 cup (packed) golden brown sugar

1/4 cup honey


What to Drink

Sauvignon Blanc is a good match for the ham and the asparagus, a notoriously wine-unfriendly ingredient. We like the Joel Gott 2006 Sauvignon Blanc from Napa Valley ($18), which has tropical fruit and citrus flavors with floral aromas and a crisp finish.

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Preparation

Preheat oven to 325°F. Place ham in large roasting pan. Pour apple juice over ham. Cover ham completely with parchment paper, then cover ham and roasting pan completely with heavy-duty foil, sealing tightly at edges of pan. Bake ham until instant-read thermometer inserted into center of ham registers 145°F, about 3 hours 45 minutes. Remove ham from oven. Increase oven temperature to 375°F.

Remove foil and parchment from ham. Drain and discard liquids from roasting pan. Cut off rind and all but 1/4-inch-thick layer of fat from ham and discard. Using long sharp knife, score fat in 1-inch-wide, 1/4-inch-deep diamond pattern. Spread mustard evenly over fat layer on ham. Pat brown sugar over mustard coating, pressing firmly to adhere. Drizzle honey evenly over. Bake until ham is well glazed, spooning any mustard and sugar glaze that slides into roasting pan back over ham, about 30 minutes. Transfer ham to serving platter; let cool at least 45 minutes. Slice ham and serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

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