If your culinary knowledge of ham is limited to sandwich lunch meat, this guide will show you how to turn that large hock into a beautiful holiday meal.
Step 1: Choose a ham Choose either a city ham, which is brined and smoked and has a mild flavor and moist texture; or a country ham, which is cured and aged for a more intense flavor but drier texture.
Step 2: Bake the ham Follow the directions included with your city or country ham and bake at 325 to 350 degrees Fahrenheit in a deep roasting pan. Do not remove the outer foil unless instructed to do so.
TIP: Fully cooked hams only need to be warmed through, but a partially cooked ham needs to reach an internal temperature of 148 degrees Fahrenheit.
Step 3: Mix glaze Mix up the glaze by combining the brown sugar, mustard, pineapple juice or the Cognac in a small bowl. If you use Cognac, you can leave out the pineapple juice.
Step 4: Remove the ham Remove the ham about 30 minutes before the end of the cooking time. Remove the foil and apply about half of the glaze, using a basting brush.
TIP: Score the ham in a diamond pattern with a sharp knife, if it wasn't done already, to allow the glaze to penetrate.
Step 5: Continue baking Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees and continue baking the ham for another 30 minutes, or until the glaze starts to caramelize and turn golden brown.
Step 6: Allow the ham to cool Remove the cooked ham and allow it to cool for 5 minutes. Baste with the remaining glaze before transferring it to a serving platter for your hungry family.
FACT: Northern Europeans during the 17th and 18th centuries ate eat ham in the spring because most fresh meat wasn't available, but cured meats like ham were more plentiful.