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Ham may be one of the most nostalgic main dishes at special occasion meals. A good ham should be simple, but oftentimes, it seems like they can end up dry, tough, and lacking in flavor, other than strong, smoky notes. I love a good ham and find that they make preparing a main dish a breeze when prepared correctly. The underlying flavor from the curing process is already there, so all a ham needs is a little attention for a showing stopping meal!
Traditionally, hams are cured and smoked or baked to fully cook them. When you purchase a cured ham, the meat is ready to eat and simply needs to be warmed up to 140°F before serving. Oftentimes, this is the benefit of ham: there’s virtually no guesswork that needs to go into the preparation.
I used to have visions of slicing meat at the table, with guests oohing and ahhing at the beauty of it all. Even though it looks good in a painting, I don’t think Norman Rockwell ever sliced meat in front of his guests. If so, he would have known that it never ends up looking graceful. But say hello to the spiral cut! With a spiral cut ham, the meat is presliced, making it quicker and easier to cut once baked.
Hams can be served as is without alterations. But at Christmas and special occasions, I love to glaze a ham. What could be better than combining sweet, salty, and sour flavors to complement the smoky ham? Plus, the strong flavors of ham can stand up to some added spice.
Ham’s strong flavors need an equally strong-flavored glaze to be noticed. Most glazes go heavy on brown sugar, which adds a good sweetness but doesn’t actually add much flavor. Instead, I start with butter and maple syrup. Both add a rich flavor along with some sweetness from the maple.
To ensure there isn’t too much sweetness, I like to add in Dijon mustard. This provides just the right about of tanginess without tarnishing the desired sweetness. Finally, to make it more seasonal, cinnamon and cloves add the warmth of spice.
Large celebratory meals often become heavy, with flavors that drown each other out. This is exactly when I crave something acidic to wake everything up and provide excitement. For this ham, I love to serve it paired with a cranberry chutney as a sauce. Fresh cranberries, dried apricots, pear, and spices are simmered together to create a perfect side to the ham. There’s a reason we serve cranberry sauce with turkey, and I’m convinced this chutney is even better with ham!
As a main dish, this glazed ham is festive, easy, and delicious! Try it out this Christmas, and let me know what you think!
Watch how to make this glazed ham recipe:
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Glazed Ham with Cranberry Chutney
- 6-8 lb bone-in ham
For the glaze
- ⅓ cup unsalted butter
- ¼ cup honey
- 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
- ¼ tsp cloves
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp dried garlic powder
For the cranberry chutney
- 12 oz fresh or frozen cranberries
- ½ cup chopped dried apricots
- 1 pear, diced
- ½ cup cranberry juice
- ½ cup apple cider vinegar
- ¾ cup maple syrup
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- ¼ tsp cloves
- ½ tsp salt
- Preheat oven to 325°F. Remove ham from the refrigerator 1 ½ hours before baking to take the chill off. Place the ham in a roasting pan (cut side down, if using a partial ham). Pour ⅓ cup water into the bottom of the roasting pan and cover tightly with foil. Place in oven to roast. While the ham is roasting, prepare the glaze and chutney.6-8 lb bone-in ham
- For the glaze: In a small saucepan, combine the butter, honey, Dijon mustard, cloves, cinnamon, and garlic. Melt and stir together over low heat.⅓ cup unsalted butter, ¼ cup honey, 2 tbsp Dijon mustard, ¼ tsp cloves, ½ tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp dried garlic powder
- For the chutney: In a 3-quart saucepan, combine the cranberries, apricots, pear, cranberry juice, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, brown sugar, cinnamon sticks, cloves, and salt. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce to a simmer until thickened, 25-30 minutes.12 oz fresh or frozen cranberries, ½ cup chopped dried apricots, 1 pear, diced, ½ cup cranberry juice, ½ cup apple cider vinegar, ¾ cup maple syrup, 2 tbsp brown sugar, 2 cinnamon sticks, ¼ tsp cloves, ½ tsp salt
- When the ham is close to 120°F, remove foil and begin glazing every 10-15 minutes until a crust starts to form and the ham reaches 140°F, 30-40 minutes. In the last few minutes, turn the broiler on to create a deeper crust.
- When the ham reaches 140°F, remove from oven and let ham rest for 15 minutes before serving.