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Orange-Braised Ham

A ham glistening with spicy orange glaze makes a deceptively dramatic dish, especially considering how simple it is to prepare. Cutting a diamond pattern into the skin takes just minutes and cooks into an elegant finish.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cured ham from the shank end, 7 to 8 lb.
  • 1 Tbs. grated orange zest
  • 2 cups fresh orange juice
  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick, 3 inches long, broken in half
  • 6 cloves
  • 6 peppercorns

Directions:

Using a large, sharp knife, remove the skin from the ham if necessary and shave away all but a 1/2-inch layer of the fat. Score the top and sides of the ham at 1-inch intervals to form a diamond pattern.

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the orange zest, orange juice, brown sugar, cinnamon, cloves and peppercorns. Cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture is thick and syrupy, about 15 minutes. Set aside.

Oven method: Preheat an oven to 350°F. Set a flat rack in a large roasting pan. Place the ham, fat side up, on the rack. Bake the ham, basting it every 20 minutes with the orange mixture, until the ham is warmed through and the fat is glistening, about 1 hour.

Slow-cooker method: Place the ham, fat side up, in a slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Uncover and remove some of the fat in the bottom of the cooker. Pour the orange mixture over the ham, cover and cook until the juices in the cooker are bubbling and the top of the ham is glistening, about 2 hours more.

Transfer the ham to a cutting board, cover loosely with aluminum foil and let rest for 15 minutes. Using a sharp knife and working against the grain, cut the ham into thin slices, arrange on a warmed platter and serve immediately. Serves 8 to 10.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Slow Cooking, by Melanie Barnard, Charles Pierce & Denis Kelly (Oxmoor House, 2008).