Apple Cider-Baked Christmas Ham

December 27, 2011

This wonderful Christmas dinner was a great exclamation point to a happy and relaxing and day with family. The ham came out good, but not great. Of course the real treasure was spending such a wonderful day with family, napping, and watching Christmas movies with the boys.

Delicious apple flavor; but don't use spiral sliced ham.

The recipe calls for a “bone-in, uncut, cured ham”. However, Cook’s Country also says that you can substitute a spiral-sliced ham, and the only required adjustment is to skip the trimming and cross-hatch in step 2. While the bark was still delicious, I would have to categorize this substitution as a mistake. The ham dried out and was tough. You will be much better served by following a recipe specifically tailored to a spiral sliced ham, such as this one.  It uses a warm-water-bath while still wrapped in plastic to warm the ham before baking, and also calls for a shorter bake at just 250-degrees, which is better suited to a delicate spiral-sliced ham.

Rating: 3-1/2 stars.
Cost: $18.
How much work? Low/Medium.
How big of a mess?  Low/Medium.
Start time 2:00 PM. Finish time 6:15 PM.

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here. The descriptions of how I prepared the recipe today are given below:

1 cinnamon stick
1/4 teaspoon whole cloves
13 cups apple cider
8 cups ice cubes
1 ham (between 7 and 10-lbs)
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon ground black pepper

  1. Use a knife to cut cinnamon stick into rough pieces.  Add cinnamon and cloves to a saucepan and toast for 3 minutes over medium burner. Add 4 cups of apple cider to the pan and bring to a boil. Pour spiced cider into a stockpot or clean bucket wide enough to accommodate the ham, flat-side down. Add 4 more cups of apple cider and 8 cups of ice cubes. Stir until ice has melted.
  2. Remove the skin from the ham and trim away fat leaving the fat cap 1/4″ thick. Cut a cross-hatch into fat at 1″ interval.  Put ham, flat-side down, into large container with chilled cider mixture. The brine will not quite cover the ham, but the exposed portion has very little meat. Place in refrigerator for to 12 hours.
  3. About 4 to 4-1/2 hours before dinner, throw away the brine and put ham in a large oven bag; flat-side down. Add 1 cup apple cider in bag, and tie securely using the supplied plastic closures (or kitchen twine). Use a paring knife to make 4 slits in top of bag to allow the steam to escape. Place in large roasting pan and allow to stand on the counter-top for 1-1/2 hours. This will allow the ham to come up to temperature without overcooking.
  4. Adjust an oven rack to the lowest position and pre-heat to 300-degrees. Bake for between 1-1/2 and 2-1/2 hours until an instant-read thermometer reads 100-degrees. Meanwhile, add 4 cups of apple cider and 2 teaspoons dijon mustard to a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, reduce burner to medium-low and allow to reduce and simmer for about 1-1/2 hours until it reduced to 1/3 cup. Stir often to prevent scorching.
  5. Remove ham from oven and increase oven to 400-degrees.  Allow ham to rest for 5 minutes, then roll bag back to expose the ham. Use a pastry brush to evenly paint ham with the reduced cider mixture.
  6. Combine brown sugar and pepper in small bowl.  Carefully use your hands to press sugar mixture onto the ham. Bake for 20 minutes ; the exterior will become dark brown.
  7. Remove from oven and loosely tent ham with aluminum foil and allow to rest on a cutting board for 15 minutes.
  8. Carve and serve.

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