Ham recipes have always been special to me; they tend to remind me of family gatherings. But recently, they have been especially special. For starters, my other ham recipe marks the first collaboration I did with my friends at US Wellness Meats, when I was their April 2012 Featured Chef. Last year, that same ham recipe was featured in People Magazine. That’s quite a lot of attention from one little cured pig leg!
The other day, US Wellness Meats asked me to try out another ham recipe, this time using a slow cooker. I jumped at the chance. This recipe is simple and not unlike my other recipe, but with the added convenience of simply throwing everything in a pot to cook in a savory broth. Better yet, this recipe works well in two ways: perfectly cooked to 140F and sliced, or slow-cooked to shreddable deliciousness. Instructions for both methods are provided below.
Savory Slow Cooker Ham
1 US Wellness Meats sugar-free ham (2-3 lbs)
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup white wine
2 tbsp honey
1 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp ground cloves (or 4 whole cloves)
for the sauce:
2 tbsp honey
salt and pepper to taste
1. Place the ham in the crockpot. If it doesn’t fit, trim its edges to fit and throw the trimmed edges into the crockpot as well. If using a ham with a flat end, place the ham flat-side-down.
2. In a small saucepan, warm the other ingredients over medium heat, about 4 minutes, until the honey is melted and the mustard is dissolved. Pour the liquid over the ham, cover, and set to low.
3a. There are two ways to prepare a slow cooker ham. When using a boneless ham (like the one in this recipe), it is best to cook it only until it reaches a specific temperature. To do so, heat the ham on low until it reaches an internal temperature of 140F, about 2 hours (start checking it at 90 minutes, then every 30 minutes). Be sure to use an instant-read thermometer to get the temperature right. This method works with spiral-sliced hams (which are usually bone-in); just be sure to read the temperature for the part of the meat nearest the bone. Let the ham rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
3b. Bone-in hams can be cooked for longer temperatures, resulting in tender meat that can be cut with a fork. To do so, cook the ham on low it until you can partially shred the meat with a fork, 6-8 hours total. One the ham is cooked to your liking, remove it from the slow cooker and set aside to rest for 10 minutes before slicing. A boneless ham isn’t recommended for this method, since it tends to dry out before reaching the desired tenderness.
4. All good hams deserve a finishing sauce, so let’s use the liquid in your slow cooker to add a potent flavor to the finished product. Pour the liquid into a saucepan and heat over med/high heat. Stir in the remaining 2 tbsp honey and reduce the liquid until dark and strongly flavored, about 8 minutes, adding salt and pepper to taste at the end. Pour the sauce over the sliced ham and serve.
** If using a bone-in ham, be sure to save the bone for ham stock.