Classing-Up Inexpensive Ham

Ham makes a terrific centerpiece for a dinner party or buffet, and the right technique and condiments can make even an inexpensive supermarket specimen worthy of serving to company. Sweet ingredients and warm spices complement the saltiness of cured ham especially well, and these items are common in Chowhounds' favorite recipes.

Hounds are high on Monte's ham, which is glazed with orange marmalade, Dijon mustard, and brown sugar. This prep is "probably the easiest and tastiest you'll ever find," Gio says. The recipe is reprinted in The 150 Best American Recipes, and the book's authors specifically recommend buying "the cheapest ham you can find," hetook notes.

Molasses and bourbon also make their way into many ham glazes. carminabee recommends this recipe (in PDF), which adds orange juice to the mix. "People rave. It's ridiculously simple," says carminabee. scunge bastes ham with a combo of coffee, molasses, and hot sauce, while truman is a fan of Alton Brown's recipe, with bourbon and gingersnaps. "The coating was addictive. The ham was tasty too," says truman.

Braising a ham is an alternative embraced by mscoffee1 because it tempers the meat's saltiness. She favors Julia Child's recipe. A classic Southern treatment employs an unexpected braising liquid: cola. "DON'T laugh," implores sunshine842, who says that even though "this sounds so, so low-rent ... it's so, so tasty." Dr Pepper and root beer work well, too. (Even chefs think so: In this CHOW Tip video, a California chef braises pork shoulder in Dr Pepper.) Just don't use diet soda; to make sure the recipe turns out right, you need the sugar, coll says.

Discuss: The best way to bake a cheap ass ham?