For many families in Bermuda, the Easter Ham is the centerpiece on the holiday menu. Serve it for lunch, brunch or dinner and then use the leftovers for sandwiches, pasta salads, quiche, casseroles, or freeze portions for using later in soups.
Most store-bought hams are cured, smoked, or both, for preservation and flavor and are usually partially or fully-cooked before they are packaged.
When buying a ham keep in mind hams with the bone left in, tend to be more flavorful than boneless hams. However, a bone-in ham will have less meat per pound than a boneless one. When buying bone-in ham, figure at least 12 oz. for each person who will be at dinner. For boneless ham, at least 4 oz. per person.
Many brands of bone-in ham are spiral-cut. This means that the ham has been cut in a continuous spiral all the way around the bone, producing slices that are easily pulled away from the bone, making the ham very easy to serve. These hams may also come with pre-made glazes that can be brushed on in the last few minutes of baking if desired.
Cooking Your Ham
The most traditional way to prepare a whole ham is to bake it. Fully cooked hams only need reheating before serving. However, it is important to follow the baking instructions included with the ham – the key to a moist, juicy ham, is to bake it slowly so the meat does not dry out.
To help keep your ham moist and juicy:
BUTT PORTION, HALF HAMS and FULL HALF SHANKS: Preheat oven to 350°F. Remove any packaging from ham. Place ham, fat side up in a 2-inch deep roasting pan. Add 1 cup of water to pan. Cover pan tightly with foil. Roast until meat thermometer inserted into thickest portion of ham, not touching the bone, reads 148°F (approximately 17-20 minutes per pound). Allow ham to rest 5 minutes before carving.
WHOLE HAM: Wrap ham completely in aluminum foil. Place ham in a shallow roasting pan and put into pre-heated 325°F oven. Roast until a meat thermometer inserted into thickest portion of ham, not touching the bone, reads 148°F (approximately 18-20 minutes per pound). Allow ham to rest 5 minutes before carving.
If glaze is desired, brush the ham with glaze and baste it with remaining glaze every 20 minutes or so. In the last 15 minutes of baking brush the ham with glaze one more time and remove the foil tent. This gives the ham a delicious golden caramelized coating.
SPIRAL HAM: Heat tightly covered with aluminum foil at 325°F for 10-12 minutes per pound. Pre-cooked spiral hams are prone to becoming dry so be careful not to overcook.
SLOW, LOW METHOD: Put a whole, fully cooked, smoked ham in a roasting pan. Tent with foil, and put the ham in a 275°F oven. Bake for eight hours. Take it out of the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes. Carve and serve. You won’t believe how moist and delicious this ham is!
BONELESS HAM: Remove packaging and place aluminum foil covered ham in preheated 325°F oven. Bake at 325°F allowing 14 minutes per pound for half ham and 12 minutes per pound for whole ham. Uncover for last 30 minutes and apply your favorite glaze if desired.
NOTE: If buying a frozen ham keep in mind the thawing process can have a great effect on the taste and texture of ham. Like turkey, slowly thawing in the fridge 48 hours before cooking is required.