Eight ingredients, plus pantry staples. That's all it takes to make an entire meal from scratch. Add in a good bottle of wine for less than $20, and you've got a feast for family or friends. That's the philosophy behind our "8 & $20" feature. We hope it adds pleasure to your table.
I grew up in a cloistered pocket of a neighborhood in Detroit. HoneyBaked Ham, the company that makes those golden beauties that adorn many a holiday table, was founded in the same city. Have I ever spent upward of $70 to buy one of these famous half hams? No.
It's easy enough to purchase a fully cooked ham at any grocery store and coat it with the simple tasty glaze that I share in the recipe below. Then, leave it in the oven for about an hour, reapply the glaze every 20 minutes or so, and crank up the heat at the end to produce a crackling exterior.
You can score the ham yourself (crosshatching the surface about 1/4 inch deep with a sharp paring knife) or purchase it spiral-sliced. The grooves allow the glaze to permeate the meat and sweeten the flavor. Some recipes call for cloves to be inserted into the meat, but I've found this isn't necessary. A boneless ham is easier to slice, but a bone-in ham typically gives you more flavor—and you can use the bone in a soup later. (My favorite for cold weather is a 15-bean soup.)
For a side dish, bolster the ham with healthy honey-roasted carrots or tender steamed green beans, or prepare another winter favorite like mashed potatoes.
For a wine pairing, I drifted toward a medium-bodied red for the late fall season, looking for something that had plush and alluring fruit but wasn't overpowering.
A Grenache from South Africa was just luscious enough to wobble on the edge of hedonistic. The rich, perfumy aromas invited me in with red and black fruit, loam and raspberry chocolate. For all this, the wine didn't feel heavy. The Grenache's fruitiness brought out the honeyed notes in the glaze while highlighting the light flavor and texture of the pork, and the wine finished with a mouthfeel like a velvet wrap—a perfect accent to an elegant evening at home.
Pair with a plush, fruit-forward red like Leeuwenkuil Family Grenache Swartland 2015 (88 points, $20) from South Africa.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 60 minutes
Total time: 70 minutes
Approximate food costs: $25
1. Adjust the racks in your oven, if needed, to provide enough space for the ham on the lower shelf. Preheat the oven to 325° F and pour a thin coating of water over the bottom of a roasting pan to retain moisture as the meat cooks.
2. While the oven preheats, mix cider, brown sugar, mustard, honey and spices thoroughly with a whisk—making sure the honey does not gather at the bottom of the bowl—to produce a thin, sticky glaze. If you're scoring the ham, use a sharp knife to cut across the surface in lines about 1 inch apart and 1/4 inch deep. Create a diagonal pattern by repeating the process while cutting in the opposite direction.
3. Place the ham cut-side down on a plate and generously coat the exterior with the glaze, making sure some glaze seeps into the scored cuts. Place on a roasting pan cut-side down and cook for a total of 60 to 80 minutes, taking out the ham every 20 minutes to apply more glaze. (The rule of thumb is 15 to 20 minutes in the oven per pound, skewing longer if the ham is bone-in.) If you’re using a meat thermometer, the ideal internal temperature to reach is 140° F. At the end of cook time, turn the oven to broil and let the ham cook for an additional 10 minutes.
4. Remove from the oven, drizzle some additional glaze over the ham and let sit a few minutes. Serves 4.