I’m Pretty Sure the Holiday Ham is Drunk Again
Easter is all about the celebration of Spring (new birth, resurrection, lilies and the like), which is why lamb is such a popular dish. If you want to go old school, my money is on a classic smoked ham with a sweet, crackling crust. In fact, I am going to play Neil Diamond’s “Cracklin’ Rosie” as I type this post. *singing* Bakin’ it sloooooow.
This is straight out of my memories of childhood – Dad would get the Smithfield smoked hams from the grocery for Easter or Christmas and bake them to perfection. Occasionally, my mom would chuck a few oranges in the baking pan and stud the thing with cloves to keep it spicy and ever so juicy. Then, after cooking and a good rest on the counter, my Dad would carve with an electric knife (that’s now been upgraded to a super sharp butcher’s knife that he sharpens right before slicing) and give my sister (then a meat eater) and I a slice before serving. Now, the only ones around clamoring for an early slice of ham are their pug and puggle, Bentley and Chloe.
This ham is straight-forward, but the glaze is a little different. It gets the name “hurricane” from the Creole-inspired ingredients – it’s the juice and booze that make up the traditional New Orleans drink of the same name. I add brown mustard, bay leaves, cloves and rosemary and boil the concoction down to a thick syrup that bathes the ham in the last hour of cooking. I gave you the ingredients for making the glaze as a standalone, but when I do it at home, I double the glaze ingredients and brine the ham in them overnight. This sweetens the ham and desalts in a bit. Then, I take the brining liquid and cook it down to make the glaze. It’s very good this way, but if you don’t feel like wasting that much rum on glaze (as opposed to drinking) just follow the steps as I’ve listed them below.
I serve this ham with the accompaniments of my childhood as well (and this is via our neighbor who usually makes these sides) – scalloped potatoes and spinach salad with red onion and hard-boiled eggs. Because I need a little more greenery on my plate, I like to roast some asparagus spears as well. It doesn’t get any more spring-y than that.
Baked Ham with Rosemary Hurricane Glaze
1 smoked ham (around 8 lbs.)
1 c. of orange juice (blood orange or clementine work well)
1 c. of pineapple juice
1/2 c. of grenadine or hibiscus syrup
1/2 c. of brown sugar
1 c. of rum
2 bay leaves
1 tsp of ground cloves
2 tbs. of brown mustard
3 sprigs of rosemary
1 small bunch of sage
pinch of cayenne pepper
Preheat the oven to 325°. Fit a v-shaped roasting rack over a roasting pan and line with sage and one sprig of rosemary. Sit ham on top of herbs and put into the oven. Plan to bake the ham for about 20-25 minutes per pound (my oven runs hot, so I cook mine closer to 20 minutes per lb. to keep it from drying out)
While the ham is cooking, make your glaze. Pour the orange juice, pineapple juice, grenadine, sugar, rum, bay leaves, cloves, mustard, and the rest of the rosemary into a large saucepan (or if you are cooking down the brine that you used on the ham, use a large pot) and bring to a boil. Continue to cook until the liquid reduces to a cup and a half. Strain and set aside.
When the ham only has about 45 minutes left to cook, take it out of the oven. Pour the glaze over the top. Return the ham to the oven and continue to bake. When the ham is done, let rest at least 10 minutes before carving so that the juices have time to redistribute. Slice and serve.