Home Cooking Recipes
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Quick & Easy
By Beverly Barbour

How to glorify a ham

It is easy to see why a leg of lamb traditionally winds up on the Easter table. After all, Easter is one of the most important Christian holidays. The question is how did the leg of a pig make the leap?

I, for one, rejoice that ham has won a place in the heart of the Easter Bunny, particularly now that ham is so inexpensive and lamb is definitely a luxury item in anyone's shopping cart. I also glory in the fact that ham makes a spectacular centerpiece and any leftovers are incredibly versatile. They cam be disguised in multitudes of ways to deliciously stretch the food budget.

It is true that if you have tasted one ham you have not tasted them all. It is also true that a ham is a ham is a ham. What do we do about that?

We give thanks to those who came before us and showed us the way of the creative glaze. Glazes not only enhance the appearance of the sow's leg, but they also enhance the flavor. Just in case you haven't yet found a favorite glaze, here are some to send you on the way to creating your own. Vary any of these recipes to suit your own taste or use any of them as they appear below.

Substitutions are not only possible they are almost a rule. Prepared commercial mustard can be used. Dijon is most often called for because of its sharpness but you can use powdered mustard. The same is true with cloves--be careful because just a little bit of dried cloves is very pervasive and will take over the glaze and the ham. I like adding a bit of horseradish to almost any glaze. The spice of ham is the difference and difference is the spice of life.

Maple Syrup & Orange Glaze for Ham

When fresh ginger isn't available use a scant teaspoon powdered ginger. If you don't wish to use dried cloves, add about 1/4 teaspoon powdered cloves to the glaze mixture.

1 cup fresh orange juice
2/3 cup real maple syrup
2/3 cup real maple syrup2/3 cup catsup
2/3 cup real maple syrup1/3 cup soy sauce
2/3 cup real maple syrup2 tablespoons finely minced fresh ginger
2/3 cup real maple syrup2 packed tablespoons dark-brown sugar
2/3 cup real maple syrupWhole cloves
2/3 cup real maple syrup2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

Combine orange juice, maple syrup, catsup, soy sauce, ginger and brown sugar in a bowl and set aside. If using a bone-in ham trim the thick rind and all but 1/4-inch fat from ham. Score a diamond pattern into the fat or the ham, and insert cloves at the corners of the diamonds. Set ham in baking pan and brush mustard all over the top. Then brush 1/2 cup of the prepared glaze over the ham. Baste the ham every 15 minutes while it bakes. Makes a scant 3 cups of glaze, enough for a 15 pound ham.

Apricot-Mustard Glaze for Ham

Apricot preserves are called for in this recipe but any jam or jelly that you have on hand can be used to balance the tart mustard and vinegar. Any remaining glaze can be passed when you serve the sliced ham.

2/3 cup apricot preserves
2/3 cup real maple syrup1/3 cup Dijon mustard
2/3 cup real maple syrup1 tablespoon rice vinegar or white vinegar

Whisk together apricot preserves, mustard and vinegar. About 30 minutes before taking the ham from the oven, brush about 2 tablespoons of the glaze on the ham (more if the ham is large). Glaze again about 10 minutes before slicing. Makes 1 cup.

Pineapple & Spice Glaze for Ham

Broil slices of fresh or canned pineapple to accompany the ham. Lightly brush the pineapple with hot-and-sweet mustard if you wish.

1 cup thawed pineapple juice concentrate, not diluted
2/3 cup real maple syrup1/4 teaspoon ground ginger or use 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
2/3 cup real maple syrup1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

Bring pineapple concentrate, ginger and cloves to boil in small saucepan. Simmer until thick and golden, 3 to 4 minutes. Set aside until ham has roasted about 1 hour. Remove ham from oven and brush surface with the entire glaze. Return ham to oven and bake until done. Makes about 2/3 cup.

Sharp Cranberry Glaze

Why should anything as tasty as cranberries be used only at Thanksgiving and Christmas? Red wine vinegar can be substituted for the sweet sherry or port wine.

1/2 cup whole cranberry sauce, mashed with a fork
1/4 cup either light or dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoon sweet sherry or port wine

Using a fork mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl and set aside until ham has been in the oven for about 1 hour. Remove ham from the oven and brush surface with all of the glaze. Return ham to oven until fully cooked. Makes 1 cup.

Ideas to scrap over

Always err on the side of overkill when choosing a ham. The leftovers freeze wonderfully well. Leave them in large pieces whenever possible or freeze in amounts that you would use in ham loaf or enough to slice for fried ham. Larger pieces will keep better in the freezer. Put all of the smaller bits and trimmings from the bone together in a container. They are lovely to have on hand to liven up egg dishes, to garnish soups or to sprinkle over salads.

--Use the flavorful bone and odd pieces of ham in baked beans.

--Use the bone to flavor lentil, split pea or bean soup.

--Heat or fry bite-size bits of ham to fold together with grated cheese into an omelet.

--Use bits of ham in quiches or frittatas.

--Mince the ham and magically turn it into ham loaf later or make ahead and freeze.

--Ham and hard-cooked eggs with sweet pickles and celery make a delicious sandwich filling.

--Use ham slices in rye bread sandwiches or buttered biscuit sandwiches.

--Sprinkle ham over macaroni and cheese before baking--or stir it in before it hits the heat.

--Brown bits of ham and then add beaten eggs and stir for excellent scrambled eggs or egg sandwiches.

Oh, the glory of ham in any incarnation!


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