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Reader of Instructions, Savior of Hams

March 28, 2013

Easter isn’t my holiday. Little Miss Fussy had a question about the Easter Bunny at the mall, and I couldn’t really answer it. The best I could do was that on Passover kids hunt for the afikomen, and on Easter kids hunt for colorful plastic eggs. I told her the bunny has something to do with the eggs.

She also thinks that bunnies are both cute and delicious. That’s my girl.

Last night I was asking Mrs. Fussy about Good Friday. The question was that if there was a post I wanted people to read before Easter, could I post it on Friday or  would it be better to run the story on Thursday? She quickly said, “Thursday.” Then after thinking more about my question she winced, “Please tell me you’re not writing about ham again.”

That was a dumb question. Of course I’m writing about ham again. Sure, some people may be tired of hearing the same old rant year after year. However, if with this post I can save just one ham, it will all be worthwhile.

When I was a kid my father instilled a valuable lesson into my impressionable brain: Always read the directions first. I don’t know how he did it, but the lesson stuck. So there I was as a child, with a shiny new toy on my lap and the instruction manual in my hands. As a teen and into my adult years, I’d do the same with video games too. Those video game manuals could be really complex, so it wouldn’t be unusual if a new game wasn’t played for days after coming into my life.

I tell you this because I am no grand expert of ham. I’m just a guy who has read the directions, and had far too many hams ruined by those who didn’t.

Bet you didn’t know that hams came with directions. Well, maybe not all of them do. But HoneyBaked Ham certainly does. However, on a busy holiday weekend, the staff may be too overwhelmed to make sure you follow their guidelines to the letter.

Let me assure you that if you diverge from the following even just a little, you will fail to understand why anyone makes a fuss about HoneyBaked ham in the first place. The stuff is amazing, but I’ve found far too many people have never experienced one the way it was meant to be enjoyed.

You can see the instructions on their site. But here’s the relevant part:


The HoneyBaked Ham is fully cooked and ready to enjoy. For the very best flavor, take the Ham out of the refrigerator and allow it to stand at room temperature a half-hour before serving. Refrigerate unused portions immediately.

Heating may cause the Ham to dry out and lose flavor

Let me put that another way that may be a bit clearer: UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES IS IT OKAY TO PUT A HONEYBAKED HAM IN AN OVEN. EVER.

Here is where people will invariably say, “But I can’t serve my guests cold ham.”
And I perpetually answer, “You aren’t. You are serving room temperature ham.”

Only a crazy person would buy a beautiful jamón ibérico de bellota and throw that gorgeous cured pig leg in the oven just so their guests can eat hot pork. There are some things that get served as is, and need to be appreciated on their own terms.

Let’s back up a minute. There is really only one reason to ever buy a HoneyBaked ham in the first place. There is one thing that sets this ham apart from all other hams. It’s not the spiral slice, because you can find that elsewhere. It’s their unique honey glaze.

Man, I have no idea how they make that. And frankly, I don’t want to know. But it’s crunchy and sweet, and when paired with the juicy, smoky, salty ham below, it’s a dynamite combination.

The killer part about sugar is that it melts. If it gets wet, it melts. If it gets hot, it melts. And even just attempting to take the chill of this joint in the oven risks destroying the prized crust you wanted in this crazy expensive ham. Beyond that, the meat can release water which not only destroys its juiciness, but also messes with the salt levels in the meat.


If you must have a warm ham, I understand. Buy something else. Or even better, glaze your own at home. It’s easy to do. In fact, it’s probably one of the easiest things one can do in the kitchen. No, it won’t be spiral sliced, but you can look like a badass when you tell everyone that you made the ham.

Now before you go and have a happy Easter, maybe you consider helping me spread the word about ham. Perhaps working together we could even save two holiday meals. That would be amazing.

12 Comments leave one →
  1. March 28, 2013 9:15 am

    Beautifully Said! Two years ago, I actually had to talk my father out of buying a honey baked ham for Easter. He simply could not fathom eating “cold ham”. Oh, I tried my best to explain it. But my Dad is a Dad. He wears black socks and shorts in the summer, with his sandals. Enough said. We had our own baked ham instead. .

  2. March 28, 2013 2:51 pm

    I find myself wondering if there’s any sort of compromise here… like, maybe if you left it to get to room temperature, then put it in a really low oven (the lowest it will go), and you only left it in there for like 10-15 minutes, just enough so it was barely warm, but the crust didn’t melt yet… maybe. But that might take an awful lot of supervision while you’re trying to get the sides on the table.

    • March 28, 2013 3:55 pm

      I don’t think that would work. And while I have taken a no compromise stance before in the past, I think I have figured out one potential solution. The good news is that it involves a good bit of flair. The bad news is that it may be hard to execute without looking like an a-hole.


      There’s no need to ruin the ham for everyone. But let’s say you give your aunt a slice, and she finds room temperature meat to be insulting. Well, you can bring out the blowtorch and quickly blast it right there on the plate.

      I suppose you could bring it back to the kitchen and do it in private. But where’s the fun in that.

      • Bob W. permalink
        March 28, 2013 4:30 pm

        I really don’t see what all the fuss is about with the idea of a “room-temperature” ham. I thought that all meats are supposed to rest after they’ve been cooked, anyway, to keep all the tasty juices trapped in the roast/steak/chop and not all over your plate?

        For the life of me, I can’t recall ever being served a scorchingly hot slice of baked ham at a family dinner…by the time the platter/sides/rolls make their way around the table, EVERYTHING is room temperature.

      • March 28, 2013 4:35 pm

        I think the idea is that people expect their meat to be either hot or warm, not room-temperature or cold. But sacrificing the delicious glazed crust for that… I dunno, maybe this ham’s really just meant for the world’s most awesome sandwiches.

      • Bob W. permalink
        March 28, 2013 4:45 pm

        Warm…room temperature…I guess I see those as being similar enough that it feels like splitting hairs.

        Of course, I suppose an argument could be made that the splitting of hairs is the very raison d’etre of the Fussy Little Blog. ;)

        And now I want a glazed ham sandwich.

      • March 29, 2013 10:03 am

        You should make a video of this blowtorch procedure and put it on Youtube. You will get more hits than PSY. Just be sure you get an edgy Betty White type to play Auntie.

  3. Ham Slinger permalink
    March 28, 2013 4:17 pm

    I worked for HBH for 3 years. I’ll go ahead and call myself an expert. I can probably still slice and glaze a ham with my eyes closed. And yes, the best flavor is room temp, no doubt. But in a pinch for Aunt Bitsy, that just can’t get over eating cold ham for dinner…. Use the microwave. I know–GASP— the microwave? Say it isn’t so. But, when you need a piece hot, break down the ham according to the directions, fan out on a plate (only what you will eat at that meal) pour some of the juice in the bottom of the foil package on to the ham, and heat on medium. DON’T heat on high, it’ll dry out, just like the oven. It’ll retain the flavor, and Aunt B won’t get a bee in her bonnet.

  4. March 28, 2013 11:38 pm

    For those who are willing to glaze their ham at home, we wanted to share our special Cabin Fever Maple Whisky Glaze family recipe. Here’s how we do it: 3/4 cup of brown sugar, a dash of cinnamon, 4 tabs of butter and 1/2 cup of Cabin Fever .. (and a pinch full of cloves) and we squeeze one orange over it all.. We then reduce all of them down and pour it all over the ham during the last 20 minutes…

  5. March 30, 2013 5:32 am

    I agree on the subject of Honey Baked Hams… serve it as is, cold or warm; if you need to warm it up, let the potatoes you serve it with do the job. But why not get one of these if you really want a great ham?


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