Ingredient SpotLight

When Easter time rolls around, families everywhere will be sitting down to enjoy the traditional Easter ham. Hams may be fresh, cured, or cured-and-smoked. The usual color for cured ham is deep rose or pink; fresh ham (which is not cured) has the pale pink or beige color of a fresh pork roast; country hams and prosciutto (which are dry cured) range from pink to mahogany color.

Ham is one of the leanest cuts of pork. According to the USDA, a 3.4 ounce (100 gram) serving of roasted extra-lean ham has about 145 calories, 5.5 grams of fat, 21 grams of protein and 53 milligrams of cholesterol. Ham contains a significant amount of vitamins B-1 and B-12. While fresh pork is low in sodium, ham is high in sodium as a result of the curing process. According to the USDA, a serving of ham can contain about one-half of the recommended daily intake of sodium.

Some suggestions for making and enjoying the perfect Easter ham:

  • Do allow the ham to sit at room temperature for 1-2 hours before cooking.
  • Do trim the fat, leaving a 1/4" layer. Score the fat into a diamond pattern by cutting 1/4" to 1/2" deep into 1" to 2" squares. Not only does scoring look nice, but it allows fat to render from the ham and provides greater surface area for the glaze to stick to. You may not be able to score a ham that has been "super trimmed" and has little fat left.
  • Do use a sharp carving knife with a thin blade to cut the ham, or buy a spiral-sliced ham.
  • Don't forget to line your pan with aluminum foil if cooking a ham at high temperature. Cleanup will be much easier.
  • Don't coat the ham with sugar, honey or glaze until the last hour of cooking. One application is usually enough.
  • Don't throw out the ham bone, use it to flavor soups or bean dishes.

All this wonderful information wouldn't be complete without a recipe. Instead of a traditional baked ham, why not welcome spring with a grilled treat? Here's one of my favorites:

Grilled Orange Glazed Ham

  • 1 ham, fully cooked, 4-6 pounds
  • 1/2 cup orange marmalade
  • 1/2 orange juice
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Combine marmalade, juice, Dijon mustard, and brown sugar in a small saucepan until melted, about 3 minutes. Preheat grill for medium heat. Brush ham with mixture, Place on grill, cover, and allow to cook for 1 hour, making sure to baste ham with sauce every 15 minutes during cooking process.

  • Yields: 6-8 servings
  • Preparation Time: 1 hour and 15 minutes