Bourbon Honey Ham

Bourbon Honey Ham

My family knows I LOVE Cherry-Apricot Ham. If there’s a holiday afoot, I’m out buying jars of cherry and apricot preserves. But I also get very bored with recipes, and this year’s holidays has caused me to long for new flavors. I found many recipes for Bourbon Honey Ham, but they all needed tweaking (in my humble opinion). Per my M.O., I took about 3 versions, mashed them up, and then added my own twist.

This recipe covered a 9 lb ham, which I bought pre-cooked, bone-in. You’ll heat it in a roasting pan, bone down (after you rinse and dry it), at 350 for 20 minutes per pound. I don’t cover with a lid, but use 2 sheets of perpendicular aluminum foil, basting every 20 minutes. That’s how my Grandmothers did it, and I’m not trying any other method in this lifetime. Ovens and hams vary WIDELY, so use a meat thermometer to discover the magical moment you hit 140 degrees. (You don’t have to heat to 160 if it’s pre-cooked…just heat to an eating temperature). Allow a 10 minute rest before cutting.

I can only say this: When I turned the last centimeter of leftover ham into a sandwich, I wept. Joy, gratitude, and disappointment it was gone. I get choked up just thinking about it.


1/2 cup brown sugar (Light, please…that dark stuff burns too easily in my opinion.)

1/2 cup CLOVER honey (I specify again, light honey.)

1/2 cup bourbon (And here is where this recipe gets tricky, because you’re going to taste the bourbon. It matters if you like the bourbon you choose. My go-to bourbon for all recipes and drinks is Basil Hayden. I have yet to find anything it’s too fancy or too redneck to meld into beautifully. It’s the perfect, flavorful middle. I once made a Hot Toddy with Woodford Reserve and spit it out. That’s a sipping bourbon. Too fancy for hot toddies. Honestly, I love your average Jack Daniel’s and Jim Beam’s, but I don’t like them in food other than desserts…for some reason I think orange or fruits when I hear those two. I’m not a Maker’s Mark girl, so honestly, I might Wild Turkey this one if I didn’t have Basil Hayden. Wait. In what world am I out of Basil Hayden?! GOD NO!)

1/4 cup molasses (Not a huge molasses fan, but don’t substitute maple syrup…too sweet. You need the bitterness of molasses. I used unsulphured blackstrap, which is generally considered cooking suicide. Blackstrap is bitter and used for health purposes. Think of it this way: The light molasses you use in Xmas desserts is first boil molasses…blackstrap is a nasty third. BUT, I wanted a SAVORY ham, not a sweet ham. I wanted to make sure every ingredient would be singular, and I feared any one of these components would take over if I couldn’t balance them. I do not prefer sulphured molasses at any boil…it changes it to sweet.)

1/3 cup whole grain mustard (Again, here you have a choice to make. French or German? The original recipe I referenced called for “Creole Mustard” which IS NOT A THING. It’s a mixture of German, French, African, Spanish….ugh. Unless you can find Zataran’s, it’s hard to locate on a whim. I used French, hoping it was the closest to Creole, which is essentially a French-based flavor profile. GOOD CALL. Held up without overpowering, and those whole grains were a great texture addition.)

Last hint: I pour about a cup and a half of water or broth into the pan as I slide it into the oven. I don’t like putting meat against a roaster and heat without something between it.

I realize only my friend Matt would be entertained by this lengthy discussion of ingredients, and no doubt he would disagree with all of it except the Basil Hayden. It was his last gift to me before departing to heaven. I wish I could call him so we could argue about molasses and types of mustards, but the sun is shining so brightly today, so I know he knows. Greg loved this ham as much as I did, but said he was overpowered by the smell of bourbon when he opened the tupperware. MAYBE I used a little more than 1/2 cup after all…