Cherry-Port Glazed Easter Ham

I’ve been baking ham for years without following any particular recipe. Sometimes I glazed them using the enclosed packet, other times I glazed them using honey. Up until now I haven’t really had anything to say about ham. In fact, the only other ham that I’ve posted was this mediocre, 3-1/2 star Apple-Cider Baked Ham. Happily, I finally found a recipe worth writing about. The ham is gently warmed, first for 90-minutes while still wrapped in plastic in a hot water bath, then in an oven bag in a 250-dergee oven. After baking, a 15-minute rest will increase the internal temperature by 10-degrees. The port and cherries are reduced in a saucepan to intensify their flavor; half of which is brushed on the exterior of the ham and the other half is made into a delicious sauce. This Cherry-Port Glazed Easter Ham was the best ham I’ve ever made. 5-stars.

The best ham I’ve ever made

Picking the Best Ham:
A few years ago I was watching America’s Test Kitchen and they had a segment about selecting the best ham. All the information you need is right there on the label, you just have to read the fine print. There are 3 main types of supermarket ham: (1) Ham with their natural juices, which can contain up to 10% water. (2) Ham, water added, which can contain up to 15% water. And (3) Ham and Water Product, which can contain any amount of water up to 50%.


  1. Supermarket hams are generally pre-cooked at the factory, so you don’t need to reheat to any particular temperature for health reasons. You are re-heating only to bring up to serving temperature, ideally 115-degrees.
  2. I made the prescribed about of glaze, which was barely enough for Easter dinner. But there was no extra sauce for the left-overs and it is the sauce that makes this the “Best Ham Ever.” I’ve increase the sauce recipe below by 50% to that there will be enough sauce for leftovers.
  3. If in step 1 there is a tear in the ham’s plastic covering, use several layers of plastic wrap before soaking in the hot water.
  4. I’d recommend using a plastic oven bag, but Chris Kimball has a back-up plan of covering the ham tightly with aluminum foil. It would add 3 to 4 minutes per pound to the heating time, but the ham would be a little drier.
  5. I paid a total of $15 to make this 11-pound ham. But the artificially low price is is because I had a “free ham” after spending $300 at my supermarket over the prior month. However, the free “ham” was labelled “Ham and Water Product”, which was precisely the type of ham I was trying to avoid. My supermarket let me pay a $1/pound upgrade to get a “Ham with it’s natural juices”. The full price of making this ham without any type of discount would have been $35.

Rating: 5 stars.
Cost: $15 for 11 pound ham. (including $20 discount)
How much work? Low.
How big of a mess?  Low.
Start time 2:00 PM. Ready at 6:00 PM.

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here. My descriptions of how I prepare it are given below:

1 spiral-sliced, bone-in ham (7 to 10 pounds)
1 large oven bag (plastic)
3/4 cup ruby port
3/4 cup cherry preserves
1-1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1-1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

  1. It is important that you do not unwrap your ham. Leave it fulled wrapped in plastic, but remove any outer wrapping (such as plastic mesh). Discard any glaze that comes with your ham, after reading the list of ingredients so that you understand how disgusting it would be to actually use it.
  2. Put wrapped ham in a large tub (or small ice chest) and fill hot tap water. Allow to sit for 45 minutes. Drain the water and fill with more hot tap water, and allow to sit for another 45 minutes. This will allow the ham to gently come up to temperature, and significantly reduce the amount of time that the ham spends in the oven.
  3. Set an oven rack to the bottom of your oven and pre-heat to 250-degrees. Unwrap the ham and remove the plastic disk covering the bone from the bottom of your ham. Put in an oven bag, and close the bag snugly over your ham. Put ham in a roasting pan (or Pyrex casserole) cut-side-down. Use a paring knife to make four 1″ slits in the top of the bag, which will prevent the bag from inflating (and popping) during baking.
  4. Bake for about 10 minutes per pound (e.g. 11-pound ham took 110 minutes). The center of the ham should reach 100-degrees; measure only in spiral slices, not the unsliced top portion. Remember the ham was fully cooked at the factory, you are only re-heating it; not re-cooking it.
  5. With 20 minutes cooking time remaining, put small saucepan over medium burner and reduce 3/4 cup port to 3 tablespoons; about 10 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and continue cooking over medium heat for 10 more minutes; until it reduces to 1-1/2 cup.
  6. Remove ham from oven, and increase your oven to 350-degrees. Cut the oven bag open and roll down the sides to that the ham is exposed, and brush the ham evenly with 1/3-cup of the glaze. Bake for 10 more minutes.
  7. Remove ham from oven bag, reserving the juices to loosen the glaze. Again, brush the ham evenly with another 1/3-cup of the glaze. Loosely tent with aluminum foil and allow to rest for 15 minutes.
  8. Add 1/2-to-3/4 cup of the ham juices to the remaining glaze. Place over medium burner until it becomes a thick sauce.
  9. Carve your ham, serving with the sauce passed separately.

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