I wish I'd taken a picture of the ham I made for Christmas dinner yesterday, but I'll be the first to admit that it isn't really a picture-perfect presentation. I mean, I'm sure you could lift it out of the slow-cooker and put it on a platter surrounded by greens and kumquats and ripe cherries, but when all is said and done, you may as well just hide in the kitchen and furtively get some slices of ham onto that platter and forget your dreams of making a big show. To that end, here is a picture of someone else's ham.
This Christmas ham is one of the easiest recipes I've ever made. Since you use your slow-cooker, this method leaves your oven free for other festive components like dinner rolls and green bean casserole. Basically, all you have to do is plunk the ham into the slow-cooker, turn the slow cooker on low, stir up the glaze, pour it on and leave it to itself for about four hours, and presto! You look like a culinary genius and your family will say things like, "This is the best ham I've ever eaten."
1 large slow-cooker
1 pre-cooked, spiral-sliced smoked ham (9 pounds is the biggest ham that will fit in my slow-cooker, and I advise you to check out what your slow-cooker will hold well before you're down to the wire on a holiday when all the stores are closed)
cherry glaze for the ham (recipe follows)
1 1/2 - 2 cups of chicken broth
4 tablespoons of butter (reserve for later)
Spray the inside of your slow-cooker with non-stick cooking spray. Unwrap the ham carefully and place it, largest surface up, in your cooker. A nine pound ham completely fills my slow-cooker, leaving ju-u-ust enough room to put the lid on. Just barely enough. Please note that this goes against the wisdom of all slow-cooker manufacturers, who generally recommend leaving a space of about two inches between the top of your food and the bottom of your lid. If going against the manufacturer's recommendations bothers you, then put your ham in a roasting pan and warm it in your oven according to the packaging directions. If you're okay with assuming the burden of heating your ham in this manner, carry on.
Pour in the chicken broth; set slow-cooker's heat control to Low. Allow the cooker to warm up while you make the glaze.
CHERRY GLAZE FOR HAM
I found this highly-rated ham glaze at one of my favorite internet sites, Allrecipes.com. It is really a fabulous site and has a lot of nice features, like a personalized recipe box. This particular recipe currently has nineteen reviews and a five star rating, which was good enough for me.
3 tablespoons water
1/4 cup white vinegar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 (12 ounce) jar cherry preserves
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
The instructions couldn't be simpler: Spray a small saucepan with non-stick spray. Combine all ingredients and bring to a boil, stirring frequently over a medium heat. Reduce heat and allow to simmer for two minutes.
When you've finished the glaze, pour it over the ham and chicken broth in the slow-cooker, cut up the four tablespoons of butter and put them on top of the ham. Put the lid on the cooker -- my lid is always right up against the ham. Heat the ham on the Low setting for three and a half hours, turning it up to the High setting for the last half hour of cooking.
Remember, slow-cooker temps do vary. My current slow-cooker, which is about two years old, gets much hotter than my old one did. If you have a close relationship with your own slow-cooker, you'll know if this will be enough time. Because remember -- you are just heating this ham, not cooking it. Just, you know, keep your eye on it. The amount of time I stated was enough to thoroughly heat the ham into a moist and steamy yumminess and yours should turn out similarly.
Couldn't be easier and got me lots of compliments from my family, the same people who bitterly threatened a dining room anarchist movement if I served them chili once more before February.
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