Finally! A totally foolproof way to produce the perfect ham, It is all about cooking it slow and low.
I had saved a 5.5 lb bone-in smoked ham that I purchased last spring from Lilac Hedge Farm and decided that it would make a great centerpiece for my annual July 4th gathering.
Given that cold-sliced made more sense for a picnic sort of fare than ham hot from the oven, I opted to cook the ham the day before, cool it overnight, and slice it the day of the party.
Since I had a bit of an issue with dry ham with one or possibly two of the three (I had a crowd!) I cooked for Easter, I did some research in hopes of finding a way to ensure a juicy ham with a minimum of fuss. I can’t find the website now, but someone posted about their friend who owns a diner, saying that the diner owner just puts the ham in a roasting or cast iron pan, covers it loosely with foil, and cooks it for 7-8 hours in a 275 oven. That’s it!
Since my ham was smaller than the one mentioned on the website I was consulting, I started checking the temperature with an instant read thermometer after 4 hours, with the ham reaching a safe 160 degrees or a bit more throughout in close to 6 hours.
Once done, I let it cool on a rack and them wrapped it up for an overnight in the fridge. Even then I could tell it was very moist, but when I carved it into as big chunks as possible and started slicing it on the morning of the 4th, it was confirmed: Perfection! And it was delicious with no basting – but you can certainly add whatever sort of garnish or glaze that suits your fancy.
I am going to use this method for my Easter holiday meals from now on. For 2017, I have a bone in ham of just over 7 pounds, which will be plenty for my (relatively) smallish guest list of 7 plus my husband and me for 9 at the table. I’ll just pop the ham in the oven around 6:30 or 7:00 a.m. and let it cook all morning into early afternoon to be ready, cooled a bit, and carved for a 3:00 or so meal time. And I am already looking forward to some pea soup in the following weeks, too!