This recipe is adapted from Martha Stewart's Christmas: Entertaining, Decorating, Giving, an instant classic when it first appeared in 1989. Unlike a typical ham, which is tender and juicy, a country ham is dry-cured before smoking, so it is intensely salty; it's meant to be sliced paper-thin and eaten with a biscuit. Soaking the ham in several changes of water, which removes some of the saltiness, is an essential part of the preparation. Country ham is delicious served warm, at room temperature, or cold. The honey mustard and ham can be made a week and a day ahead, respectively, and stored in the refrigerator. Any leftover ham can be very thinly sliced, sealed in freezer bags, and stored in the freezer up to three months.



Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • Place ham in a large pot or cooler and add enough cool water to cover. Leave in refrigerator or another equally cool place 3 days, changing water every 12 hours.

  • Preheat oven to 500 degrees with rack in lower third. Drain ham and scrub clean; wrap in parchment-lined foil and transfer to a wire rack set in a roasting pan. Add 1/2 inch hot water to pan and bake ham 30 minutes. Turn off oven; keep ham in closed oven 3 hours. Turn oven back on at 500 degrees and bake 20 minutes. Turn off oven; let ham sit in closed oven at least 6 hours and up to 10 hours; do not open oven, even once. Then remove ham from oven and discard any water remaining in pan.

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Trim rind and all but 1/4 inch fat from ham with a sharp knife. Score fat in a 1/4-inch-wide diamond pattern. Return ham to rack in roasting pan, fat side up, and sprinkle top of ham evenly with 1/2 cup brown sugar. Bake, uncovered, 30 minutes. Stir together remaining 3/4 cup brown sugar and Cognac in a small bowl. Brush ham with some glaze and bake, glazing every 15 minutes, until golden brown and a thermometer inserted into thickest part of flesh reaches 140 degrees, about 1 hour. Let ham rest at least 15 minutes. Transfer to a carving board or platter and garnish with rosemary.

  • Stir together mustard and honey in a small bowl. Serve ham, very thinly sliced, with biscuits, honey mustard, and jam.

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Rating: 5 stars
Have used Martha's method several years now. My ham of choice is Edwards Virginia. Looking forward to resumption of production when they finally recover from the 2016 fire. This year's Christmas ham was from Tennessee, and proved that Martha's method reigns supreme, no matter the source. I have a North Carolina ham hanging for the next effort. Being that Country Ham is a decidedly southern tradition, I substitute Virginia Gentleman bourbon for cognac. :) Thank you, Martha, for giving me the confidence to turn a ham that pleases every year.