As I was thinking of new Easter recipes to share with you, I knew I would not be sharing another ham recipe this year. Ham is ham. I mean, how many ways can you really recreate Easter Ham, especially when you have a fabulous slow cooker version and an equally fabulous classic version. I mean really.
But then. Then. Then! My friend, Mel, who has some of the best food judgment I know and a pretty cute name to boot, sent me this recipe for sweet baked ham, stating it was the best ham ever and she’s sorry she hadn’t sent it to me by now. I got over being offended that she’s had it for years without passing it along and made it the same day (that’s the kind of friend she is – I’m powerless in the face of recipes she sends me and I usually make them immediately).
You guys. I’m not kidding. I have never had ham like this. Ever. I don’t even know how to describe it in a way that will convince you it’s life-changing, which makes me want to cry. Here’s why it is so unique – you take a cut of ham that is bone-in and not spiral sliced and you boil it in two parts water to one part vinegar for a few hours. Stick with me here, because I was skeptical, too. Yes, your house will smell like vinegar. You can be me and open a window and turn on the vent above your stove or you can be my friend Mel and use your outdoor propane stove (pretty good idea if you have one).
After it boils, the meat is going to be so tender, it will basically fall off the bone and shred itself for you. You place the shredded meat in two layers in a dish sprinkled with a mixture of brown sugar and dry mustard. Covered, this concoction bakes for another hour and the ham comes out of the oven tender as can be and coated in a succulent, sweet sauce that contrasts beautifully with the tangy ham. The ham is unbelievably tender and so delicious, it’s unreal. I promise I”m not overselling this. It’s amazing and my absolute new favorite way to “make” ham.
Because I obviously tried this out before Easter (so I could share it with the masses), we ate it for dinner one night on tender, homemade biscuits. There are no words to describe the experience. If you want a new ham recipe to knock the socks off you and your guests, this is the one. The ham can be boiled and shredded a couple days in advance of baking to save you some time. I never knew ham could be life-changing until now.
Ok, the cut of ham is really important here. You do not (and I repeat, do not!) want a spiral sliced ham or else it will be very, very dry. Look for a cut of ham that is not sliced and still has the bone-in. The best cut I've found is a butt or shoulder cut (might be labeled shank, also). You can make a larger ham than 5-7 pounds, but be aware you'll need a larger pot to accommodate the ham (and will increase the sugar/mustard mixture accordingly). My friend, Mel, that gave me the recipe, boils her ham in a huge pot outside on her propane stove (like a camp chef-type stove). I only had my classic stovetop available and used my biggest pot with the 5-7 pound ham. Also, the ham can be boiled and shredded a few days in advance of baking in the oven in order to save time. Finally, take care not to boil the ham TOO long or you'll end up with ham jerky and you don't want that. If you are worried about time, err on the side of taking it out at 2 hours (even if it means you are having to cut part of the ham away from the bone instead of it falling away). It should still be very tender. Larger hams will definitely need the longer boiling time.
- 5-7 pound precooked bone-in ham (see note!)
- White distilled vinegar (around 1-3 cups)
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons ground dry mustard
- Place the ham in a large pot and cover with 2 parts water to 1 part vinegar until the ham is covered by at least an inch or two of liquid. Bring to a boil and cook, boiling vigorously, for 2-3 hours, until the meat easily falls off the bone. Liquid will most likely splash out during cooking if your pot is as full as mine so take care that the hot liquid doesn't splash on anyone nearby. Once the water/vinegar came to a rolling boil, I lowered the heat to a bit above medium. It maintained the vigorous boil but didn't splash as much. Be prepared that due to the vinegar in the recipe, it is going to smell like vinegar as it boils. I opened a window and turned on the vent above my stove and all was good in the world. My friend, Mel, who gave me the recipe, boils her ham outside on a camp chef-like stove. Great option if you have one.
- After the allotted time, carefully remove the ham from the pot, discarding the liquid, and let it cool until it is easier to remove the meat from the bones. Shred the ham, discarding the fat and bones, and place half in a 9X9-inch baking dish (or a similar size). In a small bowl, stir together the brown sugar and mustard. Sprinkle half of this mixture over the ham. Layer the rest of the ham on top and sprinkle with the remaining sugar/mustard mixture. Cover the dish tightly with foil and bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour.