What to Do with Your Leftover Christmas Ham

From gleaming holiday beast to savagely picked-over bone, in four relatively easy steps

When the writer Dorothy Parker defined eternity as “two people and a ham,” she wasn’t kidding. Once the plate-sized portions are carved out, you’re still left with a mountain of meat (and bone) too good to go to waste. And yet many just walk away. Maybe they’re daunted by all that ham. Maybe they don’t understand the near-infinite possibilities it offers to the bold, the willing. So, as both service and challenge, we devised a step-by-step, dish-by-dish, day-by-day guide to consuming an entire ham. Ideally with other people. But, you know, the world loves a dreamer.

Start with the ham. 


  • 1 whole ready-to-eat city ham, about 15 to 18 lbs (If refrigerated, let stand at room temperature for 3 hours before cooking.)
  • 1 cup apple juice
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup mixed with 1/3 cup bourbon


  • Place one rack in the lower third of the oven and remove the top rack (so you have room to baste).
  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  • Score a crosshatch pattern about 1?8-inch deep in the fat.
  • Lay the ham in a shallow roasting pan, place in oven, and pour 1 cup water into the pan.
    Bake for 90 minutes.
  • Remove the water from the pan, add the apple juice, and pour the syrup-bourbon mixture over the top of the ham.
  • Bake for another 45 minutes, basting often with the pan liquid. (If your ham is smaller, cook 8 minutes per pound.) You’ll know it’s done when the exterior is a crispy golden brown, the internal temperature hits about 140, and your entire house smells like ham. Let ham rest for 30 minutes before carving. Serves a lot of people for a very long time.



Ham-Egg-and-Cheese Breakfast Sandwich

  • Melt 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter in a small nonstick pan over medium heat until it foams.
  • Add a 1/4-inch slice of ham and sear until caramelized, about 2 minutes per side.
  • Remove ham and place it on the bottom half of a toasted oversized English muffin, leaving the pan on the heat.
  • Crack the eggs into the pan, cooking them in the residual fat until done sunny-side up, over medium, or however you want. Remove.
  • Lay a slice of Monterey or pepper jack cheese on top of the ham, then one egg on top of that, then another slice of cheese, and then the other egg, to melt the cheese.
  • Top with chipotle salsa, close, and eat over the sink. So far so good.


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Ham-and-Mushroom Gravy


  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 leek, split, washed, and diced
  • 3 cups cleaned and quartered mushrooms
  • 1 cup chopped ham
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 2 cups milk (plus extra 1?2 cup to adjust consistency if needed)
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • Snipped fresh chives


  • Heat the butter in a sauté pan over medium heat until it foams.
  • Add the leek and cook until translucent, 5 to 7 minutes.
  • Add the mushrooms and cook until they release their moisture, about 10 minutes.
  • Add the ham and sauté until everything begins to brown.
  • Add the flour and combine well, then add the milk and stir while it comes to a boil, thickening as it does.
  • Reduce temperature to low and add the salt, black pepper, and cayenne.
  • Cook until you can’t taste the starchiness of the flour, about 10 minutes, adjusting seasoning and consistency as desired.
  • Serve immediately, ladled over toasted country bread, french fries, or whatever kind of starch you’ve got, or transfer to a clean pot and cover with plastic wrap for later. Add chives.
  • Maybe think about going for a run?




  • Heat 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil over medium-high heat.
  • Add 2 cups chopped ham and sauté until lightly browned on all sides, about 4 minutes.
  • Add 1 tsp anchochile powder, toss, and cook for 1 minute.
    Turn off heat and let meat cool for 1 minute. Add 1?2 cup chopped white onion and 1?2 cup chopped pineapple. Toss. Top with chopped cilantro and spoon into six warmed six-inch flour tortillas, adding a squeeze of lime.

This article originally appeared in the December 2014 issue of Esquire Philippines. Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.

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