Producing a rich, salty smell that fills a kitchen and causes most mouths to water, hams epitomize many North American holidays. While most of the hind leg cuts found in supermarkets are ready to eat, almost all are best served warm. Baking in the oven is the most typical way of preparing a ham meal, but with a large group of guests or sprawling family, cooking enough meat is time consuming. Cooking two ham halves together is the time-saving option, but several techniques must be utilized to cook the meat evenly without overcooking.
1 Defrost the ham halves, if previously frozen, in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days, if fresh or 5 to 7 days if cured, according to the US Department of Health & Human Services. As well, the fridge should be set at a temperature below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, according to Pamela Schmutz, Food Safety Specialist at Clemson University.
2 Preheat the oven to a minimum of 325 degrees Fahrenheit, or according to your recipe. Cover the roasting pan in aluminum foil.
3 Determine how much each ham weighs. For a smoked half ham which requires cooking before eating, heat for 22 to 25 minutes per pound, for a smoked half ham that has previously been cooked, cook for 18 to 24 minutes per pound.
4 Cut a diamond pattern over the entire outside of both hams, about 1-inch apart and 1/4-inch deep using a large chef's knife, if desiring a glaze. Coat both with an even amount of glaze.
5 Set the two halves on the prepared baking sheet, flat side up. Tent the baking sheet with aluminum foil, which allows air to circulate while the hams cook evenly. Insert into the oven. Cook for half the time calculated for the overall baking time.
6 Remove the hams from the oven and turn them over, so the other side faces upwards. Insert them back into the oven and bake for the other required half of the cooking time, or until a meat thermometer inserted into center of the larger of the two hams reads 140 degrees F.
Items you will need
- Two smoked ham halves, fresh or frozen
- Large roasting pan
- Aluminum foil
- Large chef's knife
- Glaze (optional)
- Meat thermometer
- When determining how much ham to cook, estimate how many servings each cut will produce. For boneless hams, estimate 1/3 pound per person, and for bone-in hams, estimate 1 pound per person.
- If there is a bone in the ham, keep it to flavor future sauces or soups.
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