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Not Cooking a Spiral-Sliced Ham to Death

A 9-pound, spiral-sliced, precooked ham should take 180 minutes to cook to an internal temperature of 160? Cover or uncover? This is for 1 o'clock lunch Easter Sunday.

A precooked ham can be served cold, at room temperature, or warmed. If you really cook a precooked ham, you are likely to dry it out, and people will shun your Easter feasts in the future.

Some producers of spiral-sliced hams recommend that you not cook them. Others allow you to use relatively low heat (275F (135C) to warm the ham through. They estimate two hours for a half ham; three hours for a whole ham (or 12 to 15 minutes per pound). Definitely don't take it above an internal temperature of 140F (60C).

They recommend placing the cut ham face down and covering the pan tightly with a lid or foil, or using a roasting bag, all to retain as much moisture as possible.

The 160F (71C) benchmark is for an uncooked ham, which is baked at 325F (C) for about 25 minutes per pound. You also cover the pan or use a roasting bag. You really need an instant-read thermometer to be sure you get the center of the meat to 160F.

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