Alton Brown's City Ham

Total Time
5hrs 30mins
Prep 30 mins
Cook 5 hrs

From Food TV's "Good Eats". Cook's note: A city ham is basically any brined ham that is packed in a plastic bag, held in a refrigerated case and marked "ready to cook", "partially cooked" or "ready to serve". Better city hams are also labeled "ham in natural juices". Posted in response to a request.

Ingredients Nutrition


  1. Heat oven to 250 degrees F.
  2. Remove ham from bag, rinse and drain thoroughly.
  3. Place ham, cut side down, in a roasting pan.
  4. Using a small paring knife or clean utility knife set to the smallest blade setting, score the ham from bottom to top, spiraling clockwise as you cut.
  5. (If you are using a paring knife, be careful to only cut through the skin and first few layers of fat).
  6. Rotate the ham after each cut so that the scores are no more than 2-inches across.
  7. Once you have made it all the way around, move the knife to the other hand and repeat, spiraling counter clockwise.
  8. The aim is to create a diamond pattern all over the ham.
  9. (Don't worry too much about precision here.) Tent the ham with heave duty foil, insert a thermometer, and cook for 3 to 4 hours or until the internal temperature at the deepest part of the meat registers 130 degrees F.
  10. Remove and use tongs to pull away the diamonds of skin and any sheets of fat that come off with them.
  11. Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
  12. Dab dry with paper towels, then brush on a liberal coat of mustard, using either a basting brush or a clean point brush (clean--as in never-touched paint).
  13. Sprinkle on brown sugar, packing loosely as you go until the ham is coated.
  14. Spritz this layer lightly with bourbon, then loosely pack on as much of the crushed cookies as you can. NOTE: A small empty spray bottle from the drug store is perfect.
  15. Insert the thermometer (don't use the old hole) and return to the oven (uncovered).
  16. Cook until interior temperature reaches 140 degrees F, approximately 1 hour.
  17. Let the roast rest for 1/2 hour before carving.


Most Helpful

This was my first attempt at cooking a ham. I love ham, but my partner does not care for it. It is an exercise in futility to bake a ham for one. But this past Easter, I volunteered to bring a "real ham" instead of the honey baked thingy that we usually have and noone really enjoys. It was a smashing success. Not one bit of leftovers. I remembered seeing this episode on Food Network. The name of the episode was called "Ham I Am". He is quite clever with the puns. He did the first half of show on Country ham, not my fave...too dry and too salty. Second half was "city ham" which is basically baked ham as most of us know it. I was so happy to find this recipe. But for anyone who has not made this, you can see the actual video on youtube from the following link The city ham recipe starts at the 3:00 marker. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a cooking video is worth a million. Make it and wait for the copious praises you will receive.

Rocco Gibralter June 28, 2008

Am making it right now, and I can tell it's going to be superb! One problem: by the time I got all the toppings on, my 130 degree ham had coasted to 149 on the counter! I checked several spots, so it wasn't a hot spot. It's back in the oven now, but I'll check it often and take it out as soon as the snaps melt enough; the inside is already hot enough for food safety.

Rhiannon Deux December 30, 2007

I wish I could give this more was unbelievably good. I had a 12 pound full ham so I improvised. I used all the ingredients(except used Jack Daniels instead of bourbon since I had some) and just adjusted ingredients to cover the ham. It is the best ham anyone here had ever had and it was very easy. It was wonderful to actually be able to eat the coating instead of it being wasted on the fat. I will definately make many times.

Queenofcamping December 25, 2006

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