05/31/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Forget Lamb: Here Are Two Easy, Crowd-Pleasing Recipes for Baked Ham

Easter. No better time for what my brother-in-law, the family wag, calls "Jesse's kosher ham."

I know you're all teed up for lamb, served with mint jelly, red-skinned potatoes rolled in butter and parsley, and the obligatory green peas.

But as those who have tried it have learned, the ham is easier. Cheaper, too, allowing you to buy a better wine. (Because of the sweetness, some may prefer white; I recommend the crazy bargain Chateau Magence, a crazy bargain at less than $10 a bottle. Red? I always vote for a second-growth Bordeaux, and there are plenty out there for less than $20.)

This recipe has been a holiday favorite of two wives, which is more than I can always say about myself. It comes from a long-departed friend, Gene Hovis, a dazzling cook and exceptional human who made it all the way from a small town in North Carolina to the Best Dressed List.

Don't worry if you don't have a dozen people coming to dinner --- you'll want these leftovers.

serves 10-12

16-18 pound ready-to-eat ham, pre-cooked, with bone in
l box dark brown sugar
l/2 cup Goulden's mustard
l/2 cup bourbon
l/2 cup fresh bread crumbs
l cup honey
2 tablespoons ground cloves
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix ingredients. Pour over ham.

Cook in oven for 2-3 hours.

Baste constantly after first half hour.

But wait! This year a challenger has appeared. And you know just who'd bring it --- those brilliant home cooks, Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirsheimer. Here, from Canal House Cooking, Volume No. 3, is their ever-so-simple holiday ham, which, they say, can feed a village for a week. Lucky village --- this is a killer recipe.

Hamilton and Hirsheimer say a bone-in ham serves 3-4 people per pound. They suggest a 20 pounder --- but hey, they've got a village of hungry friends. Feel free to buy a smaller one.

Is the Canal House recipe better than Jesse's kosher ham? You decide.

Serves 20

1 small jar Dijon mustard
1 and one-half cups brown sugar
1 cup real maple syrup
1 cup orange marmalade
1 20-pound bone-in ham

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

Mix together the mustard, brown sugar, maple syrup and orange marmalade in a mixing bowl and set aside.

Use a sharp knife to remove the rind from most of the ham, leaving a band around the end of the shank bone. Leave a thin layer of fat all over the ham and score the fat. Spread the sugar and mustard mixture over the whole ham. Put the ham in a large roasting pan or a big pot.

Bake the ham for about 6 hours, basting it every now and then. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 30 minutes before slicing.

[Cross-posted from ]