Photo: Claire Lower
I am all about a holiday ham, particularly when accompanied by a sticky-sweet glaze. The salty, fatty slices of pork taste good without much fussing on your part. Since all spiral-cut hams you’ll find in the store are already cooked, all you have to to do is heat them up. The key, of course, is not drying it out while doing so.
Preventing loss of moisture is the name of the game, so a cooking method that prevents any sort of evaporation is ideal. Cooking a ham sous-vide, in a vacuum-sealed bag, provides an ultra moist cooking environment that lets your big ol’ hunk of cured pig gently warm in its own juices and fat. (In an oven, I wouldn’t dare try and heat my ham over 120℉, but with a sous vide I can cook that sucker as high as 145℉ without drying it out.) There’s no need to monitor it carefully—a half ham can stay its little hot tub for up to eight hours without any problem, letting you focus on the timing of your side dishes. It’s completely tender, succulent, and juicy, and once it reaches its target temperature, all you have to do is slap on a glaze and pop it under the broiler for a quick crisping.
Sous vide-ing a ham is is easy—to do so, you will need:
- 1 bone-in quarter or half ham, left in the vacuum-sealed bag it comes in
For the glaze, you will need:
- 1 cup Mexican Coca-Cola
- 2 cups brown sugar
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
Fill a big tub or bucket with water, set your immersion circulator down in it, and set the temperature to 135℉. (You can go as low as 120℉, but I like mine a little hotter.) Remove the outer packaging from your ham, but leave it in its vacuum-sealed bag. Place the ham in the bath. Walk away for at least two and a half hours for a quarter ham, or three hours for a half.
While the ham is cooking, make your glaze by combining all the glaze ingredients in a sauce pan and heating it over medium heat until it reduces into a thick glaze. Once the sous-vide cooking time has elapsed, preheat your broiled and remove the ham from the bag, and set it in a roasting pan or an sort of oven-safe dish that will hold it. Pour the glaze all over the ham, making sure to get in between the slices, then secure the slices against the body of the ham with toothpicks so they don’t fan out—a fanned out slices is a dry slice. Place the glazed ham under the broiler for about 5-10 minutes, until the it’s all shiny and crusted in sweetness. Remove the toothpicks, fan out the slices, and serve.