A Roasting Bag May Be The Secret To The Perfect Easter Ham

If you've been tasked with making the ham for the family's Easter gathering, your biggest concern is probably whether or not you've made enough for everyone. You'll want leftovers, after all. Hams are incredibly easy to prepare, are great for feeding a crowd, and serve as the perfect showstopper in the center of your dining table. As such, it makes sense that they are traditionally served at holidays like Easter.

The key to nailing the perfect Easter ham is to manage its moisture. There are plenty of different varieties of ham available, but the kind most commonly served on Easter is a smoke-cured, bone-in ham. That means that you can peel a slice of ham off the bone and taste it the moment you get home because it's already been cooked. The only thing that you're doing on Easter Sunday is bringing it to a nice serving temperature. However, during this process it's easy to dry the meat. To avoid that, you'll want a roasting bag; here's exactly what you need to know to make it work.

Roasting bags trap in moisture

Roasting a whole ham at a moderate temperature might work, but doing so tends to dry out the outer layers, and barely gets the interior warm enough. That's why some recipes recommend cooking your ham with some water in a roasting pan, and a tent of aluminum foil to trap the moist air around the ham's surface. Cook's Illustrated found that this method reduced moisture loss up to 50%.

Using a roasting bag accomplishes the same thing, but with more consistent results. Simply preheat your oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit, put the ham in the bag with the flat side down, and poke a couple holes in the top of the bag. This traps the heat and moisture inside, while also venting some of the air. In addition, the lower-than-average temperature heats your ham gradually, which helps it warm all the way through.

What is a roasting bag?

A roasting bag is exactly what it sounds like: It's a plastic bag that has been designed for cooking and roasting foods in the oven.

However, you can't use just any bag as a roasting bag. In the 1950s, cooking your Thanksgiving turkey in a paper bag was popular, but this method has since been condemned by health and safety experts for obvious reasons. As a result, it's important to make sure that you buy a proper roasting bag that has been treated to withstand an oven's high heat. Those won't break down or leak any dangerous chemicals due to the temperature.

Roasting or oven bags can be found at common retailers like Walmart. They come in a variety of different sizes, but we recommended that you go larger than seems necessary. The bags can always be trimmed down to the proper size to fit whatever beef, fish, poultry, or pork that you choose to roast.