Tuesday 2 May 2023

5 Tips for Serving the Perfect Ham [+ Cooking Time Guide]

Whether you’re celebrating a cherished holiday or just want to jazz up your mid-week dinner, ham is a delicious choice the whole family enjoys. But if you’re cooking it yourself, you might find tackling a larger piece of meat daunting. 

Have no fear, we’re going to share some of our top tips for cooking a delicious ham and some new techniques you can try yourself to craft the perfect dinner.

Skip the Marinade

If you often cook other types of meat, you know that marinating or otherwise seasoning before cooking is a must. Luckily, most hams are pre-seasoned so you can skip this. If you try to season a ham at home, you might end up with a super salty cut of meat. Unless you’re getting butcher-fresh ham, leave the seasoning to the pros.

Keep It Moist

Tasty dinner is all about keeping your meat moist. To help retain juices in your ham, you can:

  • Cook in foil

  • Baste with brine

  • Don’t overcook

You might be tempted to buy a ham with higher moisture content. It sounds counterintuitive, but this doesn’t create a more moist ham — it will just have less flavor. Look for a ham with lower water content and baste it yourself instead.

Cut It Thin

When it comes to carving a ham, thinner is better. Ham is super flavorful compared to other meats — a mouthful will seem overseasoned. Eating ham is a great reminder to take things slow and enjoy your dinner bit-by-bit.

Properly Prep Before the Glaze

Have you ever gone to glaze your ham only for it to seemingly disappear? Suddenly, the bottom of your ham is a sticky mess with no glaze left on top? Give your glaze some texture to stick to and make shallow cuts to the top of your ham.

Cook Your Ham Right

Getting the cooking time right is the important part of cooking any type of meat. You don’t want to risk food poisoning by undercooking but wait too long and you risk producing a dry, tough dinner.

You’ll need to cook your ham differently depending on the type:

  • Smoked and uncooked: Cook to 145 degrees F and let rest for 3 minutes per pound.

  • Smoked and cooked: Heat to 140 degrees F is packaged in a USDA-inspected plant. Otherwise, heat to 165 degrees F.

  • Fresh and uncooked: Cook to 145 degrees F and allow to rest for at least 3 minutes.

  • Country ham: Soak 4-12 hours in the refrigerator then boil for 20-25 minutes. Dry, glaze, and bake it at 400 degrees F for 15 minutes.

When in doubt, use this ham cooking time calculator from Instacart or check out their cooking guide below!


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