Understanding Your Ham
Before diving into the process of baking a boneless ham, it's essential to understand a little bit about the ham itself. When you choose a boneless ham, you're choosing a piece of pork that has been pre-cooked and then reshaped into a round or oval shape. This is done using a special process that allows all the pieces to hold together without the bone. Typically, a boneless ham will weigh anywhere from 3 to 10 pounds, which is perfect for serving a crowd. The flavor of the ham can vary based on the brand, so I recommend trying a few until you find your favorite.
Preparing Your Ham
The first step in baking your boneless ham is to prepare it for the oven. This involves removing the ham from its packaging and patting it dry with a paper towel. If your ham comes with a glaze packet, set that aside for later. Now, place your ham in a roasting pan. I like to use a pan with a rack to allow the heat to circulate around the ham for even cooking. Make sure the cut side of the ham is facing down in the pan.
Scoring the Ham
The next step in the process is to score the ham. This is a technique that involves making shallow cuts in the surface of the ham in a diamond pattern. Scoring the ham helps the glaze to penetrate deeper into the ham, resulting in a more flavorful dish. To score the ham, simply take a sharp knife and make diagonal cuts about an inch apart all over the surface of the ham. Be careful not to cut too deep, as you only want to cut through the skin and a little bit of the fat underneath.
Creating a Glaze
While your ham is baking, it's time to create a glaze. The glaze is a sweet and tangy sauce that will be brushed over the ham during the last part of the cooking process. You can use the glaze packet that came with your ham, or you can make your own. I like to make a simple glaze using brown sugar, honey, and Dijon mustard. Just mix these ingredients together in a bowl until they form a paste. Set this aside for later.
Baking the Ham
Now it's time to bake the ham. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Cover the ham loosely with aluminum foil and place it in the oven. The ham will need to bake for about 15-20 minutes per pound. This means that a 5-pound ham will take about 1.5 to 2 hours to bake. Remember, the ham is already cooked, so you're really just heating it through and allowing the flavors to meld together.
Applying the Glaze
About 20 minutes before your ham is done baking, it's time to apply the glaze. Remove the ham from the oven and discard the foil. Brush the glaze liberally over the surface of the ham, getting it into all the nooks and crannies. Return the ham to the oven, uncovered, for the remaining cooking time. The glaze will caramelize and create a delicious crust on the surface of the ham.
Slicing and Serving the Ham
Once your ham is done baking, remove it from the oven and let it rest for about 15 minutes. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the ham, making it more flavorful and juicy. To slice the ham, simply cut it into thin slices crosswise. Serve your ham with the side dishes of your choice, and enjoy the fruits of your labor. Baking a boneless ham is a simple process, but the results are sure to impress your guests.