Most smoked hams are sold fully cooked, so "why bake them again?" meat master Bruce Aidells asks, before answering his own question: to improve the texture and add a homemade glaze—in this case, one made with Dr Pepper soda and prunes—for extra flavor. After the ham is cooked, Aidells reduces the pan juices and tosses in prunes to make a sauce. "Glazes flavor only the outside of the ham," he says. "But you can spoon pan sauces over every slice."
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One 10-pound, bone-in smoked ham, skin removed and fat trimmed to 1/4 inch
3 cups Dr Pepper (not diet)
2 cups water
1/2 cup pitted prunes
1/3 cup yellow mustard
1/3 cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons of water
How to Make It
Preheat the oven to 325° and position a rack in the bottom third of the oven. Set the smoked ham in a large roasting pan. Score a 1/4-inch-deep crosshatch pattern into the fat at 2-inch intervals. Pour 2 cups of the Dr Pepper and the 2 cups of water into the pan and roast the ham for about 2 1/2 hours, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the ham registers 120°. Increase the oven temperature to 425°.
Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, simmer the prunes in the remaining 1 cup of Dr Pepper until they are plump and the liquid is slightly reduced, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the prunes to a small bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Whisk the mustard, brown sugar and vinegar into the liquid in the saucepan and boil until very thick and syrupy, about 5 minutes.
Drizzle the syrupy glaze over the ham and roast until glossy, 20 minutes. Carefully transfer the ham to a cutting board.
Pour the pan juices into the saucepan and spoon off the fat. Boil the sauce until reduced to 2 cups, 10 minutes. Whisk in the cornstarch slurry and the prunes and bring to a boil. Simmer the sauce until thickened, 2 minutes. Slice the ham and serve with the Dr Pepper sauce.
The sweet, fruity Dr Pepper glaze on this juicy ham pairs best with an equally easygoing, fruity wineZinfandel, for instance. California's Lodi region is a source for good Zinfandel.
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