The Best Way To Position Ham In The Oven For The Juiciest Outcome

America's love affair with ham for Easter actually didn't become a tradition until the late 19th century. According to Farmers' Almanac, before World War II, we mostly ate lamb shanks on Easter, an old Jewish Passover tradition dating back 3,000 years. Demand for wool began declining during the war and was replaced with synthetic fabrics used to make clothing and uniforms for soldiers (via The Daily Meal). This led to a shortage of lamb. Ham quickly became a better alternative because it was larger, cheaper and the timing worked well. Hogs could be slaughtered in the fall, and the meat could be cured through the winter months and be ready to eat by spring.

Ham is technically the hind leg of a hog, whereas bacon is cut from other parts, like the back and belly (per Wiltshire Bacon). Today we eat different types of ham — like cured vs aged, fresh vs. prepared, cold-smoked, country or city ham, and of course, the Euro style of Prosciutto di Parma (Italy) or Jamon Iberico (Spain) (via Spruce Eats). Regardless of which kind we eat, there is also no shortage of techniques and tips offered for cooking ham, mostly to maximize its juiciness and flavor. It will not surprise the more experienced chefs that it's the little things, like how to position the ham in the oven, that can be a real game changer.

Enhance the juices

Sometimes you can find an entire leg in the store, but most of us purchase ham that has already been cut down to a degree, like the spiral-sliced ham (per Insider). This can come as either boneless or bone-in. According to Cook the Story, you should always look to buy bone-in because it is usually juicier and more flavorful. One of the largest ham producers, Smithfield, suggests that we place the ham cut-side down (fat side up) when placing it on a roasting pan and cover it with foil to help retain all its moisture. Many of us don't follow this helpful step, thereby losing some of the precious juices. To help even more with added moisture, you can add a little water or even wine to the baking pan (via The Kitchn).

While not absolutely necessary for a delicious ham, some chose to glaze their hams with honey, jam, and other sweeteners to provide an alluring texture and added flavor (per Recipe Tips). But in the end, ham is naturally delectable with very few added touches. As Dodie Smith, the author of The 101 Dalmations, once said, "Ham with mustard is a meal of glory." The name of the game with ham is to achieve the juiciest outcome possible. Don't overlook the simplest steps!