This Week's Recipe--City Ham

OK--if I was going to name this recipe I'd have to go with something like 'Gingersnap Ham' or 'Company Ham' or maybe get straight to the point with 'Kick A$$ Ham'. Alton Brown however, calls it City Ham. And since it's his recipe, I guess he gets to name it!

Now, if you decide to make this be sure you have a pair of pants with an elastic waistband on when it comes out of the oven. It's that good! Even my kids wanted seconds!

The Recipe
Printable version available here.

City Ham

Recipe courtesy Alton Brown

Prep Time: 15 min
Inactive Prep Time:
Cook Time: 6 hr 0 min
Serves: 10 to 15 portions, depending on ham size


  • 1 city style (brined) ham, hock end*
  • 1/4 cup brown mustard
  • 2 cups dark brown sugar
  • 1-ounce bourbon (poured into a spritz bottle)
  • 2 cups crushed ginger snap cookies


Heat oven to 250 degrees F.

Remove ham from bag, rinse and drain thoroughly. Place ham, cut side down, in a roasting pan. 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. (If you're using a paring knife, be careful to only cut through the skin and first few layers of fat). Rotate the ham after each cut so that the scores are no more than 2-inches across. Once you've made it all the way around, move the knife to the other hand and repeat, spiraling counter clockwise. The aim is to create a diamond pattern all over the ham. (Don't worry too much about precision here.)

Tent the ham with heavy 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.

Remove and use tongs to pull away the diamonds of skin and any sheets of fat that come off with them.

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.

Dab dry with paper towels, then brush on a liberal coat of mustard, using either a basting brush or a clean paint brush (clean as in never-touched paint). Sprinkle on brown sugar, packing loosely as you go until the ham is coated. Spritz this layer lightly with bourbon, then loosely pack on as much of the crushed cookies as you can.

Insert the thermometer (don't use the old hole) and return to the oven (uncovered). Cook until interior temperature reaches 140 degrees F, approximately 1 hour.

Let the roast rest for 1/2 hour before carving.

*Cook's note: A city ham is basically any brined ham that's 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".

Andrea's Kitchen
I had a pretty good-sized ham and it really did take me about 6 hours. I didn't have bourbon, so at the advice of one of the reviewers, I just skipped it. I also didn't have brown mustard, so I used dijon.

I also made my gingersnaps from scratch. I don't have Gma Paul's recipe (although I'll get it before I make them again!) so I just used the one from my trusty Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. Then I ground up two cups worth of crumbs in the blender and took the rest to church. I didn't bring any home, so I guess they turned out alright!

The Verdict
I *may* have eluded to the verdict above, but just in case you missed it, we LOVED it! I ate way too much of it. Some reviews talked about the crumb coating becoming inedible after refrigerating leftovers. I found no such thing to be true! The leftovers were every bit as delicious! And (because I bought a ham roughly equal to half of my bodyweight) we had LOTS of them!