My Mother's Cooking: Baked Ham and Scalloped Potatoes
Several times a year, particularly around the holidays, my mother would bake a ham. She usually made the butt half rather than the shank half because it gave nicer slices. She coated it with a brown sugar and mustard glaze and usually added a liquid such as ginger ale to keep the ham moist while baking.
In those days, hams came with a layer of fat and about half of the skin left on. They also didn’t have "water added" like they do today, so you had to soak them in cold water overnight to make them more tender and to remove some of the salt.
Today, you only have to rinse them in cold water and pat them dry with paper towels before you begin. I prefer to use beer rather than ginger ale in my version of this recipe.
The scalloped potatoes are made with layers of sliced potatoes sprinkled with salt, pepper, flour, and dabs of butter. Milk is added before cooking so that the potatoes make their own bechamel sauce as they cook. You can bake them in the same oven as the ham if you have room, but they will only need to cook for an hour.
Baked Ham Recipe
Preparation Time: 30 Minutes
Cooking Time: 2 Hours (approximately)
Cooking Temperature: 300ºF
- 1 8-9 Lb. ham, preferably the butt end
- ½ cup yellow mustard
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 20-25 whole cloves
- 2 (12-ounce) bottles of your favorite beer
- Rinse the ham in cold water and pat dry with paper towels.
- Place the ham on a metal rack, fat side up, in a large covered roasting pan.
- With a sharp knife, score the fat on the ham diagonally at one-inch intervals. Then repeat the process in the opposite direction, forming one-inch squares. If there isn’t very much fat, you can skip this step.
- Place a clove in each of the squares.
- Pour one of the bottles of beer in the bottom of the roasting pan and the other in the chef.
- Mix the mustard and the brown sugar together in a small bowl to form a thick paste and hold in reserve until the ham has cooked for about an hour.
Bake the ham covered in a 300ºF oven for one hour and then spread the brown sugar/mustard paste over the fat side of the ham.
- Continue baking for another hour until the ham is fully cooked and the glaze has caramelized.
- If the liquid in the roaster has evaporated, you can add more beer to the pan and to the chef.
- Remove the ham from the oven and let the pan rest covered on top of the stove for about 30 minutes before carving.
My mother usually served this with scalloped potatoes, but it also works well with potato salad or baked beans. The following is my mother’s recipe for scalloped potatoes. If you have room in your oven, they can both cook at 300ºF. Otherwise, prepare the scalloped potatoes in advance, and bake them in the same oven once you remove the ham. The ham can easily sit covered for an hour instead of 30 minutes.
Scalloped Potatoes Recipe
- 1 large potato, peeled, quartered, and cut into ¼-inch thick slices
- 1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 stick of butter, cut into 1/4 inch thick slices
- 2 cups of whole milk
- 4 tablespoons flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- Spray a three-quart casserole dish with Pam or rub it with softened butter. Spread half of the potato slices evenly across the bottom of the pan and sprinkle half of the chopped onions over them.
- Season with half of the salt and pepper and sprinkle with half of the flour. Distribute half of the butter slices evenly across the surface.
- Repeat the process to form a second layer and pour both cups of milk over the potatoes. Bake covered at 325ºF for one hour, until fork-tender. If you are baking the potatoes in the same oven with the ham, cook at 300ºF for 15 minutes longer.
- Remove from the oven and allow it to rest for 15 minutes before serving.