Unlike pork chops, pork roasts and bacon, ham is usually pre-cooked, and needs only a gentle reheating, rather than long, slow cooking. So long as the ham is in a sealed package from an inspected meatpacking plant, it can even be served at room temperature. Follow safe handling and cooking guidelines, and heat ham to no more than 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
Read the Label
Most hams in markets today have been pre-cooked, but read the packaging to make sure. Occasionally, a ham will have been heated only to destroy bacteria, but may not be safe to eat without cooking. A ham that needs to be cooked will have a prominent label on the package stating that is must be cooked, according to the USDA. Spiral hams and prosciutto, as well as most other hams, are always cooked ahead of time.
Although you can serve a cooked ham cold, most people prefer to warm it first. Use low temperatures and be careful not to overcook it, which will dry it out. Spiral hams are especially prone to drying out. Cover a pre-cooked ham with aluminum foil and bake it at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 to 18 minutes per pound, or until the ham reaches 140 degrees Fahrenheit, as measured by a digital meat thermometer. An uncooked ham must reach 160 F to be safe.
Dress It Up
A properly heated, cooked ham tastes delicious on its own, but you can add moisture and flavor with a glaze. Ham is a sweet meat and pairs well with fruit. Combine fruit preserves or chutney with mustard, or simply brush the ham with juice, such as pineapple juice.
Love the Leftovers
One of the best things about cooking a ham is that you'll usually have leftovers. To store leftovers safely, promptly place them in a covered container, wrap them in plastic wrap or put them in a sealed, plastic bag. Store leftovers in the refrigerator within two hours of serving the ham, and keep the refrigerator set at 40 F. Use any refrigerated leftover ham within three to five days. You can also store ham safely in the freezer, although the quality goes down quickly. Wrap the ham tightly in plastic wrap or place it in sealed plastic bags. Write the date on the bag and store the ham at 0 F. Use it within one to two months for best flavor and texture.
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