When it comes to holiday feasts, there's one star of the show that always steals the spotlight: the holiday ham. This mouthwatering centerpiece is a delicious tradition that brings families and friends together during the festive season. But what exactly is holiday ham? Well, it's a cured and often smoked pork leg that is typically served during Thanksgiving, Christmas, and other special occasions.
Cooking the ham
Before cooking the ham, preheat your oven to the recommended temperature. If you're using a glaze or rub, apply it to the scored surface of the ham, making sure to cover it evenly. You can also use toothpicks, pineapple rings, or cherries to decorate the ham for a festive touch.
While cooking your ham, don't forget to cover it with either a lid or aluminum foil. Covering your ham will make it more juicy and a lot less dry.
Basting and Glazing the Ham
To keep the ham moist and flavorful, baste it periodically throughout the cooking process. This involves using a brush or spoon to collect the juices from the bottom of the pan and drizzle them over the ham. If you're using a glaze, you can apply it during the last 30 minutes of cooking to create a glossy and delicious coating.
Cooking time and temperature recommendations
The cooking time and temperature for ham will depend on its size and whether it's pre-cooked or fresh. It's essential to follow the guidelines provided with your specific ham. As a general rule of thumb, most hams will require about 15-20 minutes of cooking time per pound at an oven temperature of 325 degrees. Use a meat thermometer to ensure the internal temperature reaches a safe level of 140 degrees before serving.
Allow your holiday ham to rest for at least 15 to 20 minutes once it's fully cooked.
Follow the six steps below to prepare the perfect holiday ham.
- Pull the ham from the refrigerator about 30 to 40 minutes before cooking and allow it to come to room temperature.
- If your ham isn't already pre-sliced, score the outside of it with a sharp kitchen knife. Scoring the skin in a diamond-shaped pattern
- Place the ham, flat-side down, on a roasting rack inside a large roasting pan. Add 1 1/4 cups of water to the bottom of the roasting pan. Adding the water to the pan will ultimately create steam as the ham cooks, keeping the ham moist.
- Cover the pan with a lid or with aluminum foil.
- Roast your holiday ham in a 325-degree oven. Increase the oven temperature during the last 30 minutes of cooking time to 375 degrees and add glaze to the outside skin. The ham is done when it’s cooked to 140 degrees.
- Allow your holiday ham to rest for at least 15 to 20 minutes before serving it.