Buy a whole cooked ham and you’ll have endless days of leftovers for sandwiches, hashes, casseroles, and egg dishes. Or get a half ham, in which case you can choose from the butt or shank end. The ones with the most flavor have the bone intact (later in the week use it to make soup). The butt has better meat but carving is awkward; the shank has chewier meat but carving is easier. All of these hams are labeled “ready to eat” or “fully cooked,” and the good ones also say “no water added.” Stud the ham with cloves, which impart their aroma to the meat, cover with foil, and bake for a couple of hours (about 10 minutes per pound), until the meat is almost 140 degrees. Then uncover, glaze it, and let the temperature come up to 140. This red currant glaze with chile powder and apple juice adds sweetness and heat to the smoky meat. You need jelly without fruit pieces; if you have a chunky fruit mixture, simmer it in the glaze until it thickens, then strain it.
|1||whole cooked ham (12 pounds), or ½ ham from the butt end or shank end (3 to 4 pounds)|
|½||cup whole cloves|
|4||cups apple juice, or more if needed|
|1||jar (10 to 14 ounces) red currant jelly, or another red jelly without fruit|
|½||teaspoon chile powder, or more to taste|
|1||bunch watercress or parsley|
1. Set the oven at 325 degrees. Have on hand a large roasting pan.
2. Trim excess fat from the ham and use a sharp knife to score the ham in a diamond pattern. Set a clove in the center of each diamond; if you have enough cloves, set them along the cuts in rows. Measure out 1 cup of the apple juice to use for basting. Cover the ham with foil and bake it for 2 to 2½ hours or until the temperature is between 130 and 140 degrees, basting every 20 minutes with apple juice. Add more apple juice, if necessary, so the top of the ham stays moist.
3. Meanwhile, in a saucepan, combine 1 cup of the remaining apple juice, jelly, and chile powder. Bring to a boil, stirring often. Lower the heat and let the mixture bubble steadily for 12 to 15 minutes, or until it thickens.
4. Turn the oven temperature up to 375 degrees.
5. Uncover the ham and spoon the glaze here and there over the ham. Use the back of a small spoon to spread it without knocking off the cloves.
6. Return the ham to the oven and continue baking for 30 minutes, basting with the juices in the pan, or until the ham is glazed and dark. Add water to the roasting pan, if necessary, so the glaze does not burn. Remove the ham from the oven and let it sit for 20 minutes. Transfer to a platter.
7. Set the roasting pan over a burner. Add the remaining 2 cups apple juice and bring to a boil, scraping the pan to remove the sediment. Tip the juices into a gravy boat or bowl.
8. Garnish platter with watercress or parsley. Carve ham into slices and serve with the cooking juices.