Responses to the invitations you've sent for a holiday party are quickly pouring in, and you're faced with one oven and a load of food that needs to be prepared in that oven, including a holiday ham. Running out of oven space is the bane of many cooks, and it's why alternative cooking appliances have made an appearance in catalogs and store displays everywhere. An electric roaster with a self-basting lid, such as this model by Oster, is an ideal addition to your appliance shelf because it can roast, bake, cook, steam and slow cook depending on your recipe. Cooking a ham in a roaster oven frees up oven space and doesn't dry out your main course.
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Electric Roaster vs. Crock-Pot
The biggest difference between an electric roaster and a Crock-Pot is the choice of heat settings. Using the Crock-Pot allows you to cook on a low or high setting, but you can't control the exact temperature. Using an electric roaster lets you set a specific temperature and allows you to vary that temperature during the cooking process. Both appliances are approximately the same size and can be stored off the countertop after use.
Advantages of an Electric Roaster
Cooking ham in an electric roaster has some advantages over cooking ham in the oven. Aside from freeing up precious oven space, the electric roaster cooks food more quickly than a traditional oven. The smaller cooking space gives more intensity to the heat, directing it toward the meat instead of swirling around the cavernous space of the oven. It's also low maintenance – just use it, clean it and store it.
Choosing a Ham
The supermarket is brimming with different types of ham: hams that are already cooked and just need warming; fully cooked or partially cooked; bone-in, partially boned or boneless; or smoked. There are hams that are already glazed and spiral cut, and there are hams that are just hams. Once you've decided on the type of ham you want, then the preparation and cooking process begins.
Food safety is always paramount when you're cooking a ham in a roaster oven. Per the USDA, fresh ham must be cooked to an internal temperature of at least 145F and precooked hams should be reheated until they reach at least 140F. Having a reliable meat thermometer is essential for preparing ham safely. Use a basic probe type, or invest in a heat-safe thermometer with a probe that stays in the meat while it cooks and provides a constant temperature reading.
Cooking Ham in a Roaster
The electric roaster is a mini oven that uses heat to cook and steam to moisturize. This is unlike a traditional oven that just roasts, often drying out what you're cooking. To cook your ham in a roaster oven, you'll need:
- An electric roaster
- A fully cooked ham
- 2 to 4 cups of water depending on the
size of the ham
- Packaged glaze or homemade glaze with orange juice, brown sugar and honey
- A basting brush
- A meat thermometer
Follow these instructions:
- Set the roaster heat to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Pour the water into the roasting rack. Cover and let the water heat up while you prepared the ham.
- Place the unwrapped ham on a clean cutting board. Use a sharp boning knife or slicing knife to trim the fat down to a 1/4-inch thick layer all around the ham.
- Score the top of the ham in a
diamond pattern. This holds the glaze.
- Place the ham on the roasting rack that
comes with the appliance. Cover and roast for one hour.
- Make the glaze, if you're not using pre-made glaze.
- After one hour, use a basting brush to brush half of the
glaze onto the ham.
- Roast for another hour.
- Remove the lid and brush the ham with the
- Replace the cover and roast for another 10 minutes.
- Test for the internal temperature. Continue roasting the ham until it reaches at least 140F (if the ham was precooked) or 145F (if you're using uncooked ham).
Cooking Times for Ham
The cooking time for your ham depends on its size and whether it's uncooked, partially cooked or already cooked. Bone-in hams take less time to cook per pound since the bone conveys heat throughout the entire ham. Most have tags that give the correct cooking times for the specific ham. Do not overcook, as the moisture begins to evaporate, and your ham dries out.
Refer to your roaster's instruction manual for the specific timing of different meats and other uses for the electric roaster.