A Coca-Cola, Brown Sugar, and Dijon Mustard Easter Ham recipe your family will love

Easter Sunday, much like fall Thanksgiving, is a special culinary occasion that, for the most part, is not a time for experimentation.

If you want to try a new slaw with bok choy and radishes recipe or try rock salt roast pork, you can do that another time. Do it when no one is looking and if the results aren’t exactly what you hoped for, then you can pretend it never happened.

Nobody gets the wiser from your failed experiments.

But Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and to a lesser extent the 4th of July are not days when you should let your curiosity run free. In other words: Rely on what works and has proven itself over many years of tradition.

At these special family occasions, guests expect certain things. Like your mom’s roast turkey recipe (the one where you roast it breast-side down) or your famous mashed potatoes (the one where you use sour cream to make it deeper and richer).

Let’s take ham for example.

Most of us will serve ham at Easter in one way or another. I know, I know some of you will be cooking lamb or even grilling lamb for your Easter celebration and that’s fine because that’s how you do it. But by and large, ham is the most popular main attraction for the food served during the long 47-day Lent.

There are many ways to cook a ham and to be honest I’ve never come across one that I didn’t like. You can bake it in the oven or slow cook it on the grill, but there’s no escaping the lure of ham at Easter.

A few years ago I published an old recipe that has been in my holiday cooking arsenal for years. I don’t know who was the first amateur chef genius who looked at a bottle of soda and then a ham and decided the two were a match made in heaven. But I’m really glad they did because the results were, well, groundbreaking.

The acid and sugar in the lemonade and the spiciness of the mustard combine to create a wonderful flavor combination.

This may seem like an odd way to cook a ham, and on paper I suppose it is. But if you are looking for something different then this is the way to go. Save the real experimentation for Bastille Day or Groundhog Day when no one is looking.

Coca-Cola glazed ham with brown sugar and Dijon

Ingredients:

  • 1 10-12 pounds bone-in cured ham
  • 1 large oven bag (holds 8-25 pounds)
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1 large orange, washed and cut into 6 wedges (optional)
  • 1 12-ounce can of Coca-Cola (not diet)

Remove excess skin and/or fat from the ham. Using a sharp knife, score the ham in a diamond pattern and slice 1/4-inch deep.

Place the ham in the oven bag set in a large roasting pan. Roll the sides of the bag down so the bag is wide open and you can easily get your hands around the ham.

Combine brown sugar and Dijon mustard in a small bowl and stir until well combined.

Rub the sugar mixture all over the ham.

Place the orange wedges at the bottom of the bag around the ham. Pour the coke into the bag (don’t pour the coke over the ham or it will wash off the sugar mixture – just pour it near the bottom of the ham).

“Buff” the bag a bit by collecting air or blowing into the bag so the bag doesn’t touch the ham. Make sure the ham is loose and close the bag tightly with the ribbon provided. You should end up with what looks like a two day old mylar balloon with a ham inside. Using a small, sharp knife, make three small slits in the top of the bag for ventilation (don’t skip this step or the bag will burst wide and the ham won’t be able to baste itself).

Slide your oven rack down just enough so the pouch doesn’t touch the top racks in your oven, then bake at 350 degrees for 2-2 1/2 hours or until browned and caramelized.

Remove the ham from the oven and let it rest in the bag for 30 minutes before serving.

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