Ham isn’t just for special occasions. Yes, a holiday ham is traditional for Christmas or Easter dinner — but if you add a side of garlic kale and creamy smashed potatoes as we do in this honey-glazed ham recipe, it becomes an easy and healthful main dish for any time of year.
Ham Is Healthy ...
First of all, ham is a lean meat that's packed with protein — about 30% more protein than other meats. It’s low in fat, with only 4 grams of fat for a 3-oz portion, and just 143 calories. It’s also high in iron, magnesium, zinc, and amino acids, and it’s a very good source of selenium, phosphorus, zinc, vitamin B6, B12, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and choline.
... And So Is Kale
Due to all its nutrients, kale is one of the world's healthiest foods. And while raw kale can be hard on the digestive system, you can eat as much cooked kale as you desire. With more nutritional value than spinach, it may help improve blood glucose control in diabetes, lower the risk of cancer, reduce blood pressure, and help prevent the development of asthma.
Choosing Your Ham
Don’t understand the labeling lingo? Let’s simplify: Hams fall into three categories: city (wet-cured), country (dry-cured), and fresh (uncured). City ham is the most common and usually comes fully cooked. Many love the ease of a spiral-cut (pre-carved) ham which, if baked over water in a large roasting pan and covered in aluminum foil, will stay moist. But many spiral-cut hams (such as the popular HoneyBaked Ham) come glazed, so be sure to buy a “naked” ham. You will also see smoked ham — which is also pre-cooked — as well as both bone-in hams and boneless hams. For this recipe, be sure to choose an uncooked, boneless ham — if it's uncooked the label will include cooking instructions.
Wait, No Brown Sugar?
Ham with a brown sugar glaze can sometimes be too sweet. This honey-glazed ham recipe takes a more balanced approach with balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, crushed pineapple in juice, and no added brown sugar. The result: a light sweetness and a beautiful shine. For a slightly different flavor, you can substitute maple syrup, pears, apples, cranberries, peaches, or orange juice, or add some extra spice with ground cloves, cinnamon, dijon mustard, or ginger. Instead of using honey, make your glaze with whiskey or brandy to cut down the calories. About 90% of the calories and alcohol are eliminated once the alcohol is cooked.
Whether you buy a spiral-cut ham or one you’ll carve, the secret to moist meat is baking the ham cut-side down over water and tightly covering the pan in aluminum foil. Think of it as a steam bath for your ham! Toward the end, you’ll remove the aluminum foil and apply the glaze for a sweet, sticky finish.
No time to babysit your ham? Bring out your slow cooker. Simply spread some brown sugar on the bottom of the crock, and place the ham cut side down into the slow cooker — you might have to trim it to make it fit. Use your hands to rub the remaining ingredients into the ham. Then turn it on low for an eight-hour cook time, and go about your day.
Work those leftovers!
There’s nothing better than a sandwich made from home-baked ham — just add some dijon mustard and your favorite cheese to a hearty homemade bread. Here are other ways to put your leftover honey-glazed ham, potatoes, and even the kale to good use:
Hearty soup. Think potato ham chowder, ham soup with green peas or white beans, a thick and cheesy cheddar and ham soup, or even a cabbage ham soup.
Quiche. A deep-dish hash brown, ham, kale, and cheese quiche will taste like anything but leftovers.
Casserole. Indulge in a breakfast cornbread casserole with ham and kale, or a comforting macaroni, ham, and cheese casserole.
Eggs. A ham, kale, and cheese omelet is satisfying as either breakfast or dinner. Don't forget to cook up any leftover smashed potatoes on the side.
- 8 ounces crushed pineapples in juice (2/3 cup pineapple, 1/3 cup pineapple juice, for Honey Balsamic Glaze)
- 1/2 cup honey (for Honey Balsamic Glaze)
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar (for Honey Balsamic Glaze)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (for Honey Balsamic Glaze)
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce (for Honey Balsamic Glaze)
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme (or 1/4 tsp dried thyme, for Honey Balsamic Glaze)
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper (for Honey Balsamic Glaze)
- 3 pounds boneless ham
- 1/2 cup water
- 3 pounds small red potatoes (scrubbed, but unpeeled, for Smashed Potatoes)
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter (for Smashed Potatoes)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt (for Smashed Potatoes)
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper (for Smashed Potatoes)
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley (or 1 1/2 tsp dried parsley, for Smashed Potatoes)
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (for Garlic Kale)
- 2 cloves garlic (sliced, for Garlic Kale)
- 2 pounds kale leaves (or baby spinach, chopped, for Garlic Kale)
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (for Garlic Kale)
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper (for Garlic Kale)
- Make the Honey Balsamic Glaze. In a heavy small saucepan, bring ingredients to a boil over high heat, stirring often. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring often, until the liquid is reduced by about half, 7 to 10 minutes. Transfer to small bowl and let cool to room temperature.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Using a sharp knife, score ham in a crosshatch pattern. Place ham in roasting pan and add 1/2 cup water. Cover tightly with aluminum foil. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Uncover and spread half of the glaze over the ham, forcing it into the scored cuts. Bake for 15 minutes. Repeat with remaining glaze and bake until a meat thermometer inserted into the center of the ham reads 140 degrees F., about 15 minutes more. If necessary to keep glaze from scorching, tent ham with aluminum foil. Let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes before slicing.
- Make the Smashed Potatoes. After about 30 minutes of baking the ham, place potatoes in large saucepan and add enough cold salted water to cover by 2 inches. Cover saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Uncover and reduce heat to medium. Cook until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain well and return potatoes to saucepan. Add butter, salt, and pepper and crush with a large fork, then stir in the parsley. Partially cover with the lid to keep warm.
- Make the Garlic Kale. Rinse kale, shake off excess water, and put in a large bowl. In a large saucepan, heat the oil and garlic over medium heat until the garlic is softened, about 1 minute. In batches, stir in the kale and cook until the first batch is wilted before adding more. Cook, uncovered, stirring often, until just tender, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
- Slice the ham crosswise and serve with the smashed potatoes and kale.