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How to roast a pre-cooked ham (with a sneaky splash of poteen)

When it comes to Christmas, always have a second ham.

If a turkey is for Christmas, you can roast a pre-cooked ham for life. Or at least for New Year’s Eve or day.

Being totally honest, I’m planning a slow-cooked ham for New Year’s Day, but with a lunch to host between now and then and the last of the Christmas ham to cook up, Saturday morning is an early roasting morning.

This method is easy do, hassle free and is aimed at those who’ve already got a pre-cooked ham (mine landed vacuum packed).

Roast a pre-cooked ham: In short

  • Pre-heat your oven to about 160C
  • Fat on top? Trim off a layer, score it and add your glaze (see mine below)
  • Fill a baking dish with water, up to about a quarter inch height
  • Pop the ham on a wire rack, over the dish, and into the oven, topped by a layer of tin foil.
  • Give it about 15 minutes per pound, and an extra fifteen for good measure – reglaze every 15 minutes, adding cloves after the first 15.
  • For your last 15 over, remove the tin foil.
  • If you’ve a meat thermometer, you can use it to check the centre temperature of the ham – I’m aiming for between 50 and 60 degrees celcius.
  • Leave to rest, carve and serve.

Roast a pre-cooked ham: The details

Trim the fat, get your glaze on.
Trim the fat, get your glaze on.

In my case, I’m starting out with the end cut of ham, a good layer of fat and an overall weight of close on 4lbs.

So, I trim off a layer of fat (don’t want it all gone), then diagonally score the remaining layer before applying my glaze.

For the glaze

  • 1tbsp dijon mustard
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 1 shot poteen
  • Mix all the ingredients together in a cup and use a pastry brush to apply evenly around the top of your ham.

Get to cooking

So you’ve glazed up your ham, you’ve got your oven pre-heated (as above) to about 160C, it’s time to get to cooking.

I’m putting the ham in the oven, on a wire rack, over an oven dish with some water. The water will steam a little and stop things from drying out, but also serves as a handy easy-to-clean drip tray when we’re finished.

I’ll give it 15 minutes in the oven, loosely covered in tin foil, before adding the cloves.

I’m using whole cloves, pressed in where your scorelines meet. Much like basting the turkey, every 15 minutes I’m adding a little bit more of the glaze to keep things ticking along.

Go for your second 15 minutes, re-glaze, and your third fifteen minutes, re-glaze and so on.

In my case, cooking time all in is just over an hour. Like I’ve mentioned previously, cooking at Christmas is about getting your timings down.

Have a smaller piece of ham? It will be lower cooking time. Bigger piece? More time needed. Personally, I know I need to add an extra ten minutes or so for the kind of oven I’m using – but that’s where the meat thermometer comes in.

Temperature checking a roast ham from the oven.
Temperature checking a roast ham from the oven.

You’ll see that outer layer get a lovely golden brown colour and start to crisp up a little.

While it might be warm on the outside, it’s what’s on the inside that counts. After the first half hour, the temperature at the core was up to about 40 degrees celcius and I’m looking for between 50 and 60.

At this stage (about 45 minutes) I’m up to 53.3 degrees so nicely within target range.

For my last uncovered blast in the oven, I drizzle a little apple juice over the ham, back in it goes and we’re done.

Time to rest our oven-roast ham.
Time to rest our oven-roast ham.

And that’s it.

No mystery. Your ham is already pre-cooked, you could have cut it and got to serving, but where’s the fun in that.

This way we’re bringing up the temperature gradually, adding some serious flavour and you’ll be set for sandwiches for days!

If you’ve got your own tips and tricks that you’d like to share, or a glaze that you favour, pop a comment below, I’d love to hear about it.


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Ken McGuire

Digital media head now mixing it up in the world of broadcast media. Formerly Any Given Food (2010-2015), calling the food haven that is Kilkenny home. Award-winning podcaster turned broadcaster, find me on air weekdays 3-5.30pm on KCLR Drive.

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