Spiral ham is great for entertaining or for family dinners.
Hosts who know how long to cook a spiral ham have a great option for creating a delicious meal that is perfect for everything from holiday gatherings to quiet family dinners. It is very important that the spiral slices do not completely cut through the ham in order to maintain a dramatic presentation at the dinner table that is also easy to serve. A whole spiral ham can be cooked in the oven, in a smoker or on a grill.
The spiral-cut ham is taken from the hind leg and is offered in both boneless and bone-in versions. When determining what size of ham to buy, estimate one-third pound per person as an average serving size. Spiral hams are either packaged in water or natural juices; however, hams that specify natural juices may cost more.
All spiral-cut hams are cured before being cut. The cured flavor and reddish-pink color is achieved by adding nitrate and nitrites to the ham. Salt is also used to inhibit the growth of deadly microorganisms. Sometimes additional seasonings, sugar, phosphates and cure accelerators are injected and massaged into the meat for more flavor and tenderness.
According to the USDA Food Inspection and Safety Service, an uncooked cured ham will keep in the refrigerator for 5 to 7 days, or in the freezer for up to 4 months. In the case of a frozen ham, cooks should place the ham in a slightly larger pan and allow it to thaw in the refrigerator for 24 to 48 hours before cooking.
Preheat the oven to 325F. Place a little water and a roasting rack in the bottom of the pan before adding the ham. Loosely crimp aluminum foil over the top of the ham to prevent burning. For the best results, allow 10 minutes per pound in cooking time. Use a meat thermometer to check the ham's internal temperature and remove it from the oven once it reaches 140F. If the ham was not in its original packaging or had been previously heated, the internal temperature should reach 165F.
Cooking spiral ham in a smoker gives it a rich, smoky flavor. To begin, ignite the coals or wood chips and preheat the smoker to 225F. Then, place the spiral ham in a foil pan and place it in the smoker. Smoke the spiral ham with the lid down for three hours, or until it reaches an internal temperature of 120F.
When using a charcoal grill, light the charcoals and allow them to heat until they turn grey in color. Then, use a grilling tool to push the charcoals to the side so that the spiral ham will not be exposed to direct heat. Set the ham in a foil pan and make sure the meat's juices will surround it as it cooks. For the best results, baste the ham with its juices every hour to keep the meat moist and boost its flavor. Heat the ham until the internal temperature reaches the recommended 120F.
To heat a spiral ham on a gas grill, turn the gas on low and light the grill. Allow the grill to preheat, then set the ham in its tin foil pan and cook it on the grill until it reaches 120F.
The National Pork Board suggests complimenting the flavor of ham with a glaze using fruit, honey, mustard or maple syrup. To glaze a ham, mix the glaze while the meat is cooking, and then remove the ham from the heat approximately 30 minutes before cooking ends. Use a pastry brush to dab a healthy amount of the glaze into the spiral cuts of the ham. This will ensure that the glaze reaches deep into the meat, producing a strong, uniform taste. Re-wrap the aluminum foil over the top (if using foil) to keep the glaze from burning on the top of the spiral ham. Return the spiral ham to the oven and allow it to finish cooking.
Once a spiral ham is cooked, it can be safely stored in a refrigerator for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 2 months.