Monday, November 22, 2010

Pineapple and Brown Sugar Ham

Ham is a great food for the home cook. It comes in a variety of sizes, if bought at the right time it can be extremely inexpensive, it has a long shelf life, and it can be used in many meals after its initial roasting. It freezes well, reheats well, and the best thing is that it's already cooked, so there's no worry about overcooking or undercooking. And, if you're not so in to the whole turkey thing, ham is a great Thanksgiving alternative!

I love a sweet glaze on my ham. I usually go with a simple brown sugar and mustard glaze, but I had some pineapple juice leftover from my Whisky-Marinated Steak and saw an opportunity to use some up. I added one small can to some brown sugar.

To that I added a pat of butter and a couple big spoonfuls of dijon mustard.

I turned the burner on medium and waited for things to start heating up.

Once I had a nice bubble going, I turned the heat down to medium-low and let the glaze reduce for about 20 minutes.

While the glaze was going, I prepped my ham. I found a nice, bone-in, 5 pound ham. I always get the end that has the bone--you get more flavor, and the ham bone always comes in handy for other recipes.

While we're on the "tips" section of the recipe, I do not recommend feeding ham bones (or any other bones, actually, apart from the special, kiln-dried bones at the pet store) to dogs. Doing so can be deadly (I know from personal experience.)

Anyhow. Grab a sharp knife and cut lightly into your ham. You'll want to cut both vertically and horizonally, to create diamond shapes all across the skin of your ham.

Now grab some whole cloves and press a clove into every corner of every diamond.

I just love how the cloves look, studded into a nice piece of ham.

All right! By now your glaze should be sufficiently reduced. You don't want it to be too thick, since it will thicken up more in the oven. You just want everything blended together and the sugar dissolved.

Pour the glaze right over the ham.

Nothing makes me hungrier than a picture of a studded, glazed ham.

I like to baste the ham while it bakes. Maybe every 20-30 minutes--so, three or four times. If your glaze begins to get too thick in your roasting pan, pour in a little water to thin it out. Burned sugar is really hard to get off!

Now slice into your big, beautiful ham. Thank the pig that gave its life so you could feast upon such a glorious roast. And keep dreaming--you and your ham will have many more meals together. I love to use leftovers in potato soup, in omelettes and quiches, and sandwiched between my Sweet 'n Easy Dinner Rolls. The bone has a special place, as a flavor enhancer in my favorite vegetable lentil soup. If you ask nicely, I may post it someday ;)

Recipe: Pineapple and Brown Sugar Ham

1 c. brown sugar
1-6 oz. can pineapple juice
3 tbsp. dijon mustard
1 tbsp. butter
freshly ground pepper, to taste

1 5-10 lb. bone-in smoked ham
whole cloves (enough to stud ham)

Preheat oven to 350F.

Over medium heat, combine brown sugar, pineapple juice, dijon mustard, butter, and pepper. Once mixture reaches a gentle boil, reduce heat to medium low. Reduce for 20-30 minutes.

Place ham in roasting pan. With a paring knife, score ham horizontally and vertically, all the way around, in a diamond pattern. Press whole cloves into corners of diamonds.

Pour glaze over ham. Roast for at least 1 hour, basting with glaze every 20-30 minutes. If glaze begins to burn at the bottom of the roasting pan, add a little water to thin.

Let ham rest before serving. Don't forget to save the ham bone!

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