Ham Can Make a Great Dish in Summer

During warm weather months, many people enjoy serving ham as a main dish and for special occasions. Because it usually only needs to be reheated--about 95% of hams sold are precooked--it's quick and easy to prepare, especially in a microwave.

Both shank or butt end hams and canned, compressed hams cook well in the microwave, at about 10 to 12 minutes per pound. Ham should be set on a microwave trivet inside a shallow microwave dish covered with plastic wrap. A little water (about a quarter-cup) poured into the bottom of the dish will create steam.

When microwaving a ham, shield the cut corners to prevent overcooking in those areas. For a shank or butt end ham, place a two-inch strip of foil around the cut edge, folding the foil toward the outside of the ham. With canned ham, place a two-inch foil strip around the top edge, folding the strip down along the vertical sides. Should any dark brown or dried areas develop, shield them with small pieces of foil.

Microwave hams at MEDIUM (50% power) because, like all meats, hams are dense and require a moderate rate of heating. A ham that appears to be overcooking on the top should be turned over after half the cooking time has elapsed. If you are using a microwave temperature probe or a meat thermometer, remove the ham when the probe registers 15 degrees.

Variation in Size

Since hams vary greatly in size, follow the recommendations given for ham in the microwave owner's manual. Some oven manufacturers recommend limiting the size of hams to no more than six inches in height and about five to seven pounds in weight. Owners of compact ovens should keep in mind the need for a three- to four-inch clearance between the food and the top and sides of the oven.

After cooking is complete, glaze a microwaved ham by brushing it with jelly or preserves that have been lightly mixed with a small amount of mustard or brown sugar. Since microwaved hams are moist and juicy, don't expect a firm or crusty glaze, as you might with a conventionally baked ham.

For small families, fully cooked ham slices that are up to two inches thick microwave well. Use the technique of placing the ham in a dish, adding water and covering with plastic wrap. Because of their smaller size, ham slices can be microwaved at HIGH (100% power) for about 15 to 25 minutes depending on thickness.

When I microwave ham I always try to plan for leftovers to enjoy again in recipes such as those that follow. Both are great for entertaining because they are easy on the cook and they have great eye and taste appeal.

These are a nice size for hors d'oeuvres or you can serve them as an entree.


1 pound ground cooked ham

1/2 pound ground pork

3 slices bread, crusts removed and cubed

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/2 cup water

1 egg

1/4 cup minced celery

2 tablespoons minced green pepper

2 tablespoons minced onion

1/2 teaspoon dry mustard

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1 tablespoon catsup

1/3 cup brown sugar, packed

1 tablespoon prepared mustard

1 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar

Combine ham, pork, bread cubes, lemon juice, water, egg, celery, green pepper, onion, mustard, pepper and cloves in large mixing bowl. Shape mixture into about 25 meatballs, using 1 heaping tablespoon meat mixture for each.

Arrange meatballs in 12x8-inch microwave-safe dish. Cover with wax paper. Microwave at HIGH (100% power) 9 to 11 minutes, rearranging ham balls after about 5 minutes so less-cooked ones are to outside of dish.

Meanwhile, in small bowl, stir together catsup, brown sugar, mustard and vinegar. Drizzle glaze over ham balls and return to microwave about 2 to 4 more minutes, gently stirring balls after 2 minutes, until lightly glazed.

To serve, transfer ham balls to serving platter and serve with wood picks for hors d'oeuvres, or over rice, if desired, as entree. Makes 24 ham balls.

Note: If catsup is too thick, add a few drops water to make glaze thin enough to drizzle over ham balls.

This a delicious summer breakfast or brunch, served over hot biscuits. When you know you'll be pressed for time at the last minute, make this ahead, refrigerate it, then reheat in the microwave just before serving. Reheating takes about eight minutes, with periodic stirring.


2 eggs

4 ounces mushrooms, sliced

2 cups diced cooked ham

2 tablespoons chopped green pepper

2 tablespoons chopped sweet red pepper or pimiento

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon dry mustard

Dash cayenne pepper

2 cups half and half

Hot biscuits or rice

Lightly grease or spray with non-stick spray 10-ounce glass casserole or flat-bottom microwave-safe serving bowl. Break eggs into bowl and pierce yolks with tines of fork or wood pick. Cover with plastic wrap. Microwave eggs at MEDIUM (50% power) 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, rotating after 1 minute, if necessary, until hard cooked. Cool, then dice.

Meanwhile, place mushrooms in 2-quart microwave-safe casserole. Cover and microwave at HIGH (100% power) 1 to 2 minutes, just until lightly cooked. Add ham, green and red peppers and diced eggs. Toss to mix. Set aside.

In 1 1/2- to 2-quart measure, place butter, flour, salt, mustard and cayenne. Microwave at HIGH 3 to 5 minutes, whisking well every 2 minutes, until well blended and starting to dry out.

Gradually add half and half, whisking well. Microwave at HIGH 5 to 8 minutes, whisking every 2 minutes, until thickened and smooth. Stir hot sauce into ham mixture, then cover and microwave at HIGH 5 to 8 minutes, until ham pieces are hot throughout. Serve over hot biscuits or rice, if desired. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

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