Published November 1, 1999.
Holiday hams are usually dry and dull. For a moist, juicy, and flavorful ham, ignore the package directions and bake it in a bag.
Compare the package instructions for heating and saucing that come with different brands of supermarket ham and you may find yourself confused and disillusioned. Recommended cooking times and temperatures vary, as do the results: The meat can turn as dry as dust or as mushy as a wet paper towel. And the sauces--sometimes enclosed with the ham in a packet, sometimes suggested by a recipe--tend to have one thing in common: They're as sweet and gooey as candy.
We wanted to prepare a spiral-sliced ham with a moist and toothsome meat that had just the right amount of bite. And to accompany it we wanted fairly simple recipes for more flavorful, "grown-up" tasting sauces.
To keep oven time to a minimum, we let the ham come up to room temperature before putting it in the oven and used an oven bag to seal in the heat. We then developed two sauces--one made with stout and dried cherries, the other with mustard, vermouth, and thyme--that do elegant justice to our perfectly cooked ham.list of recipes