According to a survey conducted last year by the Des Moines, Iowa-based National Pork Board, 67 percent of Americans have ham for Easter dinner. What’s great about this entree is how easy it is to prepare.
Brian Sterner, executive chef at the Gideon Putnam Resort in Saratoga Springs, points out that most people purchase hams that are already cured. So preparing a ham for dinner is about reheating and glazing the ham throughout the reheating process. Sauces, rubs and glazes are what make a ham stand out on the Easter dinner table.
“Getting the most flavor is about whatever type of rub or sauce you put with it,” Sterner said. Ham pairs well with a variety of flavors, from sweet to spicy and everything in between.
Sterner likes to use an apple cider and whole grain mustard glaze that is easy to prepare. He takes one gallon of apple cider and heats it to reduce it to one-half gallon. Then he mixes in one cup of stone-ground mustard. “It’s naturally sweet with the slight tartness of the apple cider,” he said.
He puts the glaze on, wraps the ham in foil, warms it in the oven for about an hour, uncovers it and then continues to glaze it every 15 minutes until it reaches the desired temperature, about a half an hour more, depending on the size of the ham. Before serving it, he spoons some of the glaze on top of the sliced ham. Sterner likes to serve the ham with applesauce mixed with raisins.
One common mistake is overcooking a ham. “You only need to cook them to 140 [degrees],” said Ceci Snyder, spokeswoman and dietician for the National Pork Board. Overcooking can lead to a dry ham.
Hams come either boneless or bone-in. While a big, bone-in ham is a “show-stopping centerpiece,” said Snyder, many people choose boneless hams for the ease in carving them. Spiral cut hams offer the best of both worlds, with the slices already cut to the bone for easy serving. “The last few years, we’ve definitely seen an interest in spiral hams for their convenience,” Snyder said. “It takes a lot of guesswork out of how to cut a ham,” she said.
The already-cut idea certainly turned out to be a gold mine for one entrepreneur, Michigan resident Harry J. Hoenselaar, who started the HoneyBaked Ham Co. 40 years ago and has grown it to more than 400 stores nationwide.
Bone-in hams provide about 2 to 3 servings per pound, while boneless hams offer 4 to 5 servings per pound. Because ham comes from a pig’s leg muscle, which is a well-exercised part, ham is naturally lean, Snyder said.
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