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Your Last-Minute Holiday Ham Is Right Here


Every home cook should have a few "emergency" dishes under their belts: the kind of "pull-the-ripcord," "break-the-glass" recipe that they can fall back on to feed a crowd impressively with very little fuss. And whether you're heading to a holiday dinner or hosting one yourself, you never know when an invading horde of unexpected guests will trigger a dire need for another festive main course.

And if that moment comes this year (or later today, even), we have the solution to your predicament. It involves ham. The best ham ever, in fact.

When slow-cooked and doused with a delicious glaze, even a simple boneless supermarket ham can become a thing of beauty. Here's how to transform this hulking cut of smoked pork into something worthy of the holiday -- with a bare minimum of effort:

1. Score the simplest ham you can find. When you dash into the supermarket, sidestep hams marked "spiral-cut" or "maple-glazed". Grownups can generally slice their own ham without assistance, and no factory-made "maple glaze" can rival the one you'll be brushing on that puppy.

2. Bake the ham with a bit of booze. Sure, you can heat up that ham in a roasting pan with just water, but what would be the fun in that? A dose of Riesling or another aromatic white wine creates a basting liquid that infuses your ham with flavor.

3. Make a buttery, herb-infused glaze. All too often, hams are brutalized with super-sugary glazes and the baffling addition of canned fruit. Go classy (and classic) with a white wine, butter, and thyme reduction.

4. Bake on a golden-brown crust. The ham experience can be pretty monotonous without the contrast between caramelized crust and tender pink middle. So once you've brushed your ham with glaze, raise the oven heat so that it turns savory and ever-so-slightly crispy. Then all you need to do is put it on a platter and pass the mustard.
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