maple-orange glazed ham

maple-orange glazed ham | the merry gourmet

The whirlwind that was Thanksgiving is over, and the Christmas tree is now in its place of honor in our living room. We’re not done decorating, though. There are ornament boxes still in the hallway, the outdoor lights are in a pile on our front porch, and the stockings are draped over a chair in the dining room, waiting patiently to be hung in their proper spots. Eventually, we’ll get to those things.

I’ve been purposeful about making time to be reflective over this Thanksgiving break. That’s the nature of Thanksgiving, of course – it’s the perfect (and expected) time to reflect on what we’re grateful for, what makes us happy.

To aid in my process of reflection, I’ve started a practice called bullet journaling thanks to some inspiration from Kristen. She recently wrote a post about how she’s learned to love mornings that was filled with great ideas, and in it, she mentioned bullet journaling. I began doing some research and dove right in. Lists? Daily journaling? A chance to write more with my favorite fountain pen? Sign me up.

When I filled in my bullet journal notes on the evening of Thanksgiving, reflecting on what went right (or wrong) with the day’s cooking, one entry read, “America’s Test Kitchen glazed ham = YES.” This is what I’m here to tell you about today.

A couple of weeks before Thanksgiving, I received a free review copy of the new America’s Test Kitchen cookbook, 100 Recipes: The Absolute Best Ways To Make The True Essentials. This is a bible of a cookbook, filled with recipes divided into three lists – The Absolute Essentials, The Surprising Essentials, and The Global Essentials. Each list contains recipes that a home cook can easily master and add to their repertoire. I’ve bookmarked many recipes so far, but the one that got my attention immediately was the glazed spiral-sliced ham, recipe 31 in the Absolute Essentials List.

For the past several years, I’ve baked a glazed ham for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I’ve used a variety of recipes, and my most recent favorite was the thyme-honey glazed ham recipe from Gourmet. But each year, the edges of the ham dry out and curl after baking, becoming tough and chewy. It drives me batty. I’m not sure others notice, but I notice, and that’s all that matters when I cook.

This America’s Test Kitchen recipe uses a method that I’d never tried – bringing the ham up to room temperature using a hot water bath, then cooking the ham in a plastic oven bag at low temperature. I was skeptical (cook in an oven bag?), but I decided to give it a try. I liked that the recipe seemed to shave off some cooking time, and this is important on Thanksgiving day when oven space is in serious demand.

The ham was fantastic. There are two glazes in the cookbook, but I used the maple-orange glaze. The method here, though, is the entire reason to make this glazed ham. Any glaze would work fine. The ham turned out beautifully, without those dry, leathery edges that drove me crazy. I’ll never make a glazed ham any other way. At least, not until America’s Test Kitchen comes up with a new genius method for me to try out.

Yield: Serves 12-14, with plenty of leftovers

Maple-Orange Glazed Ham

This recipe comes from the newest cookbook by America's Test Kitchen, 100 Recipes: The Absolute Best Ways To Make The True Essentials.

If your spiral-sliced ham comes with a foil packet of glaze, feel free to discard it and make your own. It's simple to do, and it's so much more gratifying.


For the ham:
1 (7- to 10-pound) spiral-sliced bone-in half ham
1 large plastic oven bag

For the glaze:
3/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup orange marmalade
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon


Leaving the ham’s inner plastic or foil covering intact, place ham in a large container and cover with hot tap water; set aside for 45 minutes. Drain and cover again with hot water; set aside for another 45 minutes.

Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 250 degrees. Unwrap ham and discard plastic disk covering the bone (if present – my ham didn’t have this). Place ham in oven bag, and gather the top of bag tightly so that the bag fits snugly around ham. Tie the bag and trim the excess plastic. Set ham cut-side down in a large roasting pan and cut 4 slits in the top of the bag with scissors or a paring knife.

Bake ham until center of ham registers 100 degrees, about 1 to 1-1/2 hours (about 10 minutes per pound). While ham is baking, make Maple-Orange Glaze (recipe below).

Remove ham from oven and increase oven temperature to 350 degrees. Cut open the oven bag and roll back sides to expose the ham. Brush ham with 1/3 of the glaze and return to the oven until glaze becomes sticky, about 10 minutes.

Remove ham from oven, transfer to carving board, and brush entire ham with 1/3 of the glaze. Tent ham loosely with aluminum foil and let rest for 15 minutes. Carve and serve ham.

Optional: While ham rests, add 4 to 6 tablespoons of ham juices to remaining 1/3 of glaze and cook over medium heat until thick but fluid sauce forms. Serve ham with sauce.

Maple-Orange Glaze:

Combine all ingredients for glaze in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until thick and syrupy and reduced to 1 cup, 5 to 10 minutes. Set aside.

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15 Responses to “when life gets in the way, and a recipe: apple and pear pie”

  1. martina — September 19, 2011 @ 12:35 pm

    you can do this 🙂 you are one of the strongest women i know and an inspiration! thinking of you and your family and sending healing thoughts your way 🙂

  2. Kiran @ — September 19, 2011 @ 12:47 pm

    So sorry to hear about your dad – but glad he is doing well now. Hugs 🙂

  3. amelia from z tasty life — September 19, 2011 @ 12:50 pm

    MJ: little daily things – like making a pie – are really the best way to go about big changes and happening like this one… I hope you find comfort in the small moments (and of course wish your dad a speedy recovery). BYW, from your FB page link I clicked on your mom’s blog and started reading a few of her posts: I can see where you get your writing skills and passion to share life, as it is happening, in the moment… you are a beautiful family!

  4. — September 19, 2011 @ 12:57 pm

    Pie crust does sense your fear and frustration. But yours looks lovely. I am sending you healing, peaceful througts for you and your mum and dad. And Amelia’s right – you and your mum ae both so talented. Hugs xox

  5. JulieD — September 19, 2011 @ 6:09 pm

    The pie looks wonderful, MJ. I hope your dad is all better and home soon!

  6. Winnie — September 19, 2011 @ 6:35 pm

    Sending love your way, my friend, and cannot wait to see you next week xoxo

  7. Paula — September 19, 2011 @ 8:04 pm

    Yes, you can do it and you did do it, wonderfully so and this does not just apply to the pie crust. I’m sorry that what was turning out to be such a good week ended with your Dad in ICU, but thankful that he appears to be on the mend and going to be getting more help at the re-hab centre. Your Mom will hopefully also be able to take advantage of this opportunity to get some rest herself. I can imagine the worry the kids felt when they saw their Grampa but the hugs around his neck must have brought them and him lots of comfort. Hoping that your Dad has a full recovery.
    Congratulations on the FL Times Union publishing, on the Gojee, and on Kitchen Generation’s feature.
    I’ve baked crisp using apples and pears and I can imagine how delicious your pie tastes.

  8. Rachel Winter — September 19, 2011 @ 8:11 pm

    Thinking of you and your family.

  9. Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen — September 19, 2011 @ 9:51 pm

    I’m so sorry about your dad’s fall. I’m glad to hear that his condition is improving and that he’s out of the ICU though. Thinking of you and your family. xo

  10. sweetsugarbelle — September 19, 2011 @ 10:57 pm

    MJ, I am so sorry you have been having a hard time lately. Im glad things are lookng bedder. Hoping your dad is well SOON!

  11. DessertForTwo — September 20, 2011 @ 1:18 am

    I’m so sorry to hear about your dad, but I’m so glad to hear he is recovering.

    LOVE your article 🙂 I agree-Southern food should not be haute cuisine. It should be made with love in your heart and flour smeared on your face.

    Lots of love to ya,

  12. LiztheChef — September 20, 2011 @ 11:27 am

    I know you can do this but I’m certainly sorry that you and your Mom have to go through this, not to mention your Dad and what he must be experiencing. Lean on your friends…

  13. chinmayie @ love food eat — September 20, 2011 @ 11:30 pm

    I am so sorry about your dad! Wishing him a fast recovery…

  14. Macaroni Mama — September 21, 2011 @ 4:28 pm

    Thanks to your friends, MJ, who clicked on my blog link.

  15. Jamie — September 27, 2011 @ 11:13 am

    Baking really centers us, helps us focus, concentrate and think things through. And baking makes those around us happy. Hoping this helped you and those around you get through this rough time. Sending hugs and hoping your dad heals soon and well. xo

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