Baked country ham is the centerpiece of a proper holiday meal in many parts of the South—and a culinary achievement comparable to China’s thousand-year-old egg. Its flavor is powerfully porky, deliciously robust, minerally, and deep, and it’s perfectly complemented by the cinnamon and cloves in glaze. Though this baked country ham is nowhere near as salty as an uncooked, unsoaked country ham, it’s still a good idea to have on hand some great relishes, such as watermelon rind or fig preserves or a few pickled peaches, to help take the edge off.
What to drink: A perfectly baked country ham, scented with clove and bracingly salty, is an ideal excuse for serving the South’s greatest wine, made from native Scuppernong grapes. Resist the urge to drink bone-dry wines on this occasion and seek out off-dry varieties made by Duplin Winery in Rose Hill, North Carolina, and lrvin-House Vineyards on Wadmalaw Island, South Carolina.–Matt Lee and Ted Lee
LC A Ham In Every Pot Note
“A baked country ham recipe takes some time to prepare,” caution authors Matt Lee and Ted Lee in the introduction to this recipe. “But it’s not complicated and it’s well worth the effort.” Well, there you have it. In the spirit of learning, we thought we’d share their other thoughts on what sort of ham to specify and any special equipment that’s necessary, too, so here goes: “Before you begin, make sure you have a boiling pot big enough to accommodate the ham. Most cooks arrange for their butcher to cut off the narrow hock end of the ham to make the ham fit better; we prefer to let the hock protrude a few inches above the surface of the water. As long as the meaty majority of the bulb-shaped ham is submerged, you’re in good shape. We’ve found small, 8-pound country hams that fit nicely, hock and all, in an 8-gallon boiling pot.” All that’s missing from this salty, porky goodness with the crackly brown sugar glaze is maraschino cherries. Or not.
Baked Country Ham
- Quick Glance
- 15 M
- 3 H, 15 M
- Serves 6 to 8