Whether you're expecting a crowd for a holiday feast or you're simply in the mood for a delicious pork ham roast, getting the meat just right is a skill that needs practice. Fortunately, there are chefs willing to share their tips and recipes to make your time in the kitchen a lot more successful.
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Prepping Ham to Cook
First things first: If your ham is frozen, take the time to defrost it in the refrigerator before tossing it in the oven. Yes, this will require a few extra days, but it's worth it. In fact, the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service recommends planning ahead for slow, safe thawing in the fridge that could require one or two days, depending on the size of your ham.
If you take the ham out of the refrigerator to let it adjust to room temperature prior to baking, just remember to follow the safety guidelines for perishable food.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) safety guidelines state that you need to refrigerate perishable foods within two hours, or one hour if the temperature is above 90 degrees Fahrenheit. This prevents bacteria from multiplying when food is left at room temperature or in the "danger zone" between 40 and 140 F, says the CDC.
To get dinner on the table quick, prep our Simple Baby Spinach Salad ahead of time. Make it, toss it and leave it in the refrigerator until it's time to eat.
Baked Ham Glaze Recipe
If you're tired of the same old go-to pork ham roast recipe, why not liven things up with a baked ham glaze? Yankel Polak, head chef at ButcherBox, tells LIVESTRONG.com that this apricot mustard glaze recipe is guaranteed to hit the spot and win over all of your dinner guests.
Glazed ham ingredients:
- 1 spiral cut ham
- 3 cups of apricot nectar
- 1/2 cup of dried apricots
- 1/2 cup of whole grain mustard
- Heat oven to 350 F.
- Combine apricot nectar and dried apricots in a saucepan.
- Place on stovetop and reduce by half on medium heat, approximately 10 minutes.
- After the apricot mixture has reduced, pour into a food processor or blender with whole grain mustard.
- Blend until it resembles apricot jam, approximately two minutes.
- Reserve 1 cup of glaze and spread the rest on the spiral cut ham.
- Place glazed ham cut side down on a baking sheet or roasting pan and bake for 40 to 50 minutes. Since the ham is already fully cooked, the internal temperature needs to reach 140 F before serving.
- Slice and serve with reserved apricot mustard. Enjoy!
Read more: How to Bake a Pre-Cooked Spiral-Sliced Ham
Expert Tips for Baking Ham
Being armed with the best baked ham recipe is the first step to cooking up an excellent meal. But it's also nice to have a few insider secrets at your fingertips. Here are four tips Polak swears by when cooking a pork ham roast in the oven.
- Always preheat the oven. For the best results, Polak says to make sure a ham goes into a preheated oven. "You want it heating up evenly and quickly to avoid losing excess moisture and drying out," he explains.
- Cover the ham with foil. To help hold the steam and give the inside plenty of time to heat up without over-cooking the crust, Polak recommends covering the ham for the first half of the cooking time.
- Take the time to baste it. Once you've reached the halfway point, Polak says it's time to uncover and baste. "I tend to go with sweet sauces for my hams, and basting every 20 minutes or so will help get you that sticky-sweet glaze that makes baked ham so delicious," he explains.
- Give it some time to rest. Like all proteins, a ham is largely water. And Polak points out that when the ham is exposed to heat, that water moves to the surface. His tip? Let it rest for 30 minutes before carving to give the moisture time to reabsorb.
When it's time for storing leftovers, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says you can store leftovers in the fridge for three to four days before tossing or three to four months if stored in the freezer.
Need a side to go with your ham? Try our Smoky Maple Sweet Potatoes recipe, which has just 87 calories per serving and 3 grams of fiber.
- USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service: "Ham and Food Safety"
- USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service: "Freezing and Food Safety"
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "Four Steps (Clean, Separate, Cook, Chill) to Food Safety"
- Instagram: "Yankel Polak, ButcherBox Head Chef, Personal Interview"
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: "Eat Right and Reduce Food Waste"
- Butcher Box: "Home Page"