Making your own brown sugar ham glaze is so simple that you won’t need to buy a commercially prepared sweet-baked ham this year. You can save money by buying, baking, and glazing your own ham this holiday season.

Brining Turkey is Better Than Burning Down Your House was my advice for people to avoid the dangers of deep frying turkeys this year. It may seem a contradiction to now advise you to apply a blowtorch to ham, but the flame that caramelizes sugar is a much more targeted use of heat than dropping a whole carcass into boiling fat.

It’s a lot easier to slice ham than carve turkey anyway, so you may choose to create a brown sugar ham glaze instead of turkey this year. Even if you start with an inexpensive pre-cooked ham, you can still use this method to make a flavorful dinner that you’d expect to pay a lot for.

In a stove-top sauce pan, I combine 1 cup brown sugar, ½ cup orange marmalade, 1/3 cup bourbon, and ¼ cup whole grain mustard. You can use the ingredients you desire, perhaps substituting apple jam for the marmalade and apple juice for the bourbon. What ever ingredients you choose, they are heated until they form a thick syrup that can be brushed on the ham.

There are two steps to creating a sweet-topped ham. The first is to fully cook the ham to assure the safety of the food. However, we don’t want to dry it out. Actually, we want to initially ADD as much moisture to the ham as possible. This means we need a moist, convective cooking method.

The best way to retain moisture is to cook the ham in the oven, supported on a rack in a roasting pan. You can add a flavorful liquid like apple juice, pineapple juice, or vegetable stock and cover the pan with a lid or foil.

In this enclosed environment, the ham will steam in the flavorful liquid, giving greater moisture and flavor to the inexpensive ham you’ve purchased.

However, a crunchy brown sugar ham glaze is created by caramelizing sugars. Sugars turn brown and brittle at 320F (160C) in a dry environment. That’s why it’s now time to switch to a dry, conductive application of heat.

After brushing the first coat of the brown sugar ham glaze, the ham is returned to the oven. This time, it’s uncovered and any liquid is removed from the pan. Remember, we want direct dry heat. So, you should place the ham as close to the top of the oven as possible.

Once the glaze is dried and begins to caramelize, that’s when you can really make a hard candy shell by using a blowtorch, propane torch, or crème brulee’ torch to apply intense heat directly to the glaze.

The key to creating your own brown sugar ham glaze is to create a thick syrup using brown sugar, jam, liquid and a condiment. Then, your control of indirect moist heat, as well as direct dry heat will give you the most flavorful holiday ham that you created yourself.

Author's Bio: 

Chef Todd Mohr is a classically trained chef, entrepreneur, cooking educator and founder of WebCookingClasses. You CAN learn to cook without written recipes by taking his FREE cooking class that will change the way you think about cooking forever!