Tips for baking or smoking your main course

Tips for baking or smoking your main course

December 21st, 2011 by Susan Pierce in Life Entertainment


  • A 10- to 14-pound smoked ham usually cooks 15 to 20 minutes per pound at 325 F to 350 F, depending on the cut and whether the ham is fully cooked when purchased.

  • If using a homemade glaze, brush on during the last 30 minutes of cooking.


John Lopopolo, Mount Vernon Restaurant chef, says a baked ham was the centerpiece of his family's Christmas dinner throughout his childhood.

"My father was a chef, too, so he always cooked a Christmas ham. I've made it for my family the last 15 years," Lopopolo said.

Ham and Christmas dinner are practically synonymous, the chef believes.

"Everybody gets so burnt out on turkey at Thanksgiving, then turkey leftovers, that people want change by Christmas," he said.

The recipe Lopopolo shares today for a delicious baked ham with minimal fuss offers that variety. What sets this recipe apart is a glaze that mingles the flavors of bourbon, brown sugar and gingersnaps.

"It's not sweet like honey-glazed, but it's got great flavor," he said. "It comes out of the oven with a nice crust on it, and it is simply gorgeous."

For those who want the sweet, smoky taste of a sugar-glazed ham but prefer leaving the cooking to someone else, Bones' Smokehouse, 9012 East Brainerd Road, will smoke your ham for $39.95. The 8-pound hams feed 10 people.

"We smoke in the neighborhood of 75 to 100 hams at Thanksgiving and probably 50 to 75 for Christmas," said Tim Bishop, Bones' general manager.

"We get the 8-pound Farmland spiral-sliced ham, which is already cooked, and we smoke it for about an hour," said Bishop.

"We take a sugar glaze -- which is basically white sugar, some brown sugar, a little allspice and dash of nutmeg -- heat it to liquid form, then pour it over the cooked spiral ham," he said.

Customers are given instructions on how to reheat the ham when they pick up their order.

Bishop said Bones' will take orders for smoked hams through Friday or while supplies last. Orders must be made at least one day in advance of pickup.

Both Lopopolo and Bishop noted they are seeing an increase in the number of consumers choosing prime rib for their Christmas entree.

"For the majority of people, though, Thanksgiving is turkey, and Christmas and Easter mean ham," said Bishop.

Bourbon and Gingersnap Ham

7-9 pound buffet ham

1 quart apple cider or apple juice

1/2 cup Dijon mustard

1 cup brown sugar

4 ounces bourbon

1 (12-ounce) box gingersnaps

Trim off the ham's excess outer skin, and score the meat. Put in a roasting pan with apple cider or juice. Bake covered for one hour at 325 F or until internal temperature is 150 F.

After baking, remove the ham from the oven and drain excess liquid. Brush Dijon mustard evenly over meat to coat. Pack (rub) on cup of brown sugar. Drizzle ham with 4 ounces of good-quality bourbon.

Grind half of the box of gingersnaps in the food processor until coarse but not fine. Pack gingersnap pieces onto ham until evenly distributed.

Return ham, uncovered, to oven at 325 F. Continue baking until molasses-colored crust develops or until internal temperature reaches 160 F to 165 F.

Remove from oven, slice and serve.

Yields 15 servings. If using a 4-pound ham, cut recipe in half.

Chef's tip: "Prepare this the day you are serving it. You don't want it to sit overnight."

-- Chef John Lopopolo