Preparing the perfect ham for all of your holiday guests to share can feel like a lot of pressure, but complementing the main dish with sides, snacks and desserts can help take a bite out of that overwhelming feeling.

To help fill out your dinner table this holiday season, start with a crowd-pleasing appetizer like Bacon and Cheddar Ranch Dip that can ease everyone into the meal. Serve up a tasty side, such as Balsamic Glazed Roasted Root Vegetables, so that the ham doesn't stand alone. Then, just as dinner's grasp wears away, treat your guests to White Chocolate Peppermint Popcorn Bark as a delightful holiday sendoff. 

The Perfect Piece of Pork

To make sure the main course this holiday season - a yummy, juicy ham - is cooked and prepared to perfection, there are some simple steps to follow. 

Thaw It

While ham can be cooked without thawing, for best results the first step to a tasty ham is properly thawing it in either the refrigerator or cold water. Never thaw a ham on the counter, as it can become subject to bacterial growth when the outside warms but the inside remains frozen. Remember: The larger the ham, the longer it needs to thaw before cooking.

Bake It

Once the ham is properly thawed, start by heating your oven to 325 F and lining a roasting pan with aluminum foil. You'll want to cook the ham low and slow to avoid drying it out, and lining the pan helps limit the mess. As it bakes, don't forget to flip it over about halfway through the process. 

Check It

When the ham gets close to being done cooking, take the safe route and check its temperature. The USDA recommends bringing pork to 145 F to help ensure it's cooked thoroughly. 

Finish It

After pulling the ham from the oven, let it rest 15 minutes before slicing. Because the ham will continue baking outside the oven for a short period, allowing it to rest holds in those delicious juices. If you're looking for a different way to please your guests' palates, try glazing it with different mixtures that could include anything from brown sugar to fruit juices.

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