maple-orange glazed ham

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.

Ingredients:

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

Directions:

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.