Ham leans more savory than sweet thanks to a mustard, brown sugar and balsamic rub. [Photograph: Jennifer Olvera]

Growing up, ham wasn’t my favorite thing. It was usually dry, with a cloying glaze I just didn’t understand. As an adult, I decided to make some changes and fix those problems. This ham, with a bright, sharp glaze, comes served with onions roasted right in the meaty pan drippings.

Why this recipe works:

  • A sharp glaze with just a mild sweetness helps cut through the rich smokiness of the ham.
  • We use the pan drippings to roast cipollini onions. The drippings keep them moist while adding flavor at the same time.
  • Basting the ham every 20 minutes as it bakes helps it pick up color faster while still cooking through at a gently pace.

About the author: Jennifer Olvera is a veteran food and travel writer and author of “Food Lovers’ Guide to Chicago.” Follow her on Twitter @olverajennifer.

Special equipment: Roasting pan


serves Serves 10 to 12, active time 15 minutes, total time 2 1/2 hours

  • 1 (10 to 12-pound) smoked cured city ham
  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup backed brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, divided
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound cipollini onions, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey


  1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 325°F. Remove ham from packaging and drain thoroughly. Place cut side down in roasting pan. Using a paring knife, score the ham to create a diamond pattern, taking care to only cut through the first inch or so.

  2. In a small bowl, combine mustard, brown sugar, 1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and stir to combine. Rub mixture on ham, taking care to get it into the cracks.

  3. Combine onions, remaining 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and honey in a medium mixing bowl. Season with salt and pepper and toss well to coat. Transfer to the baking pan, and arrange onions around the ham.

  4. Place ham in the oven and cook, basting every 2o to 30 minutes with pan juices, until ham is browned and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the deepest part registars 130 to 140°F, about 2 hours. Tent with foil if ham starts to brown too rapidly.

  5. Remove ham from oven and let rest, tented with foil, for 10 to 15 minutes. Spoon out onions with a slotted spoon and pour pan drippings into a measuring cup. Carefully skim fat off of pan drippings. Slice ham and serve immediately with onions and drippings.

Serious Eats: Recipes