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City Ham

Good ole Alton Brown comes through again. No matter which of his many recipes I try I am almost never disappointed.  This recipe for city ham (i.e. precooked, brined ham - not country ham which is smoked and way too salty) is simply sensational.  When I prepared this for Christmas dinner last year it was as though we had never had ham before - this was ham taken to the next level.  A must for ham lovers.

1 city style ham, hock (or shank) end (see note)
cup brown mustard
1 cup brown sugar
1 ounce bourbon (poured into a sprits bottle)
2 cups crushed ginger snap cookies

Preheat oven to 250.

Remove ham from bag, rinse and drain thoroughly.  Place ham, cut side down, in a roasting pan. Using a small paring knife or clean utility knife set to the smallest blade setting, score the ham from top to bottom spiraling clockwise as you cut being careful to only cut through the skin and the first few layers of fat (see notes).

Rotate the cut after each cut so that the scores are no more than 2" across.  Once you've made it all the way around move the knife to the other hand and repeat spiraling counter clockwise (see note 2 again).  The aim is to create a diamond pattern around the ham (again, see note 2).

Tent the ham with heavy duty foil, insert a thermometer, and cook for 3-4 hours or until the internal temperature at the deepest part of the meat registers 130  F.

Remove the ham from the oven, and using a pairing knife remove as much of the skin and fat as possible.  Don't fret if you can't get it all, but remove what you can.

Dry with paper towels then brush on a liberal coat of mustard using a basting brush.  Sprinkle on the brown sugar packing loosely as you go until the ham is coated. Sprits this layer with the bourbon than loosely pack on as much of the cookies as you can.

Insert the thermometer (new hole) and return to the oven uncovered. Cook until the internal temperature reaches 140 F, approximately 1 hour.

Allow the roast to rest hour before carving


  1. A city ham is basically any brined ham that's packed in a plastic bag, held in a refrigerator case and marked "ready to cook" or "ready to serve". Better city hams are also labeled "ham in natural juices".
  2. This is not as easy as it sounds.  Basically you want to be able remove the skin as easily as possible once the ham has been partially cooked. Do the best you can.



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