Sunday, January 18, 2009

Ham with spiced crusty glaze

Ah the holidays, the few times of year when families and friends come together and gorge themselves on a large piece of cooked meat (and vegetarians/vegans grumble that everyone else around them are a bunch of neanderthals). Either way, my favorite time of the year, culinarily speaking, is after the holidays. If you've read my earlier posts, you already know I'm all about managers specials. And the post-holidays are some of the best times to pick up what would normally be a rather expensive piece of meat on the cheap. This time I found myself a 9 lb. bone in ham... booyah!

Now, hams come in many styles, but they're primarily divided by the way they've been treated. Country hams are generally smoked while city hams get brined. Either method preserves and flavors the meat while simultaneously cooking it. Thats why nearly all ham on the market can be eaten straight from the package. No matter which type of ham you get though, it can always use some extra flavoring. This is where things get tricky as there are thousands of different ideas for how to cook a ham. In the south the traditional treatment is with cola. My aunt (the hamstress of my extended family) follows the instructions on the package. Many people use honey and brown sugar, either on their own or from the "glazing packet" that came with the ham. And there's the crust group, who use an assortment of spiced/sugary "breadings" (generally ground cookies) to give their hams flavor. I decided to join this last group for my ham.

It started by looking at what Alton Brown did on Good East, cook the ham then coat with mustard, then brown sugar, then ground spice cookies. Well, I didn't feel like wasting the little bit of mustard I had left since I'd be using it for the inevitable ham sandwiches. And I didn't feel like making gingersnaps just to put them on a ham. So I looked in my pantry for fill-ins: brown sugar, honey, nutmeg, ground cloves (well, whole cloves ground myself), panko, and about 1/3 of a bottle of Captain Morgan's spiced rum. Well, that all certainly sounds good and proper.

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Ham with spiced crusty glaze:
1 city/picnic ham, pref. bone in
1 cup brown sugar, divided
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup honey
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
Enough rum for the ham and yourself (ham requires ~1/2 cup)

1. Put the cut side of the ham facing down in your roasting pan and turn the oven on to 375F.
2. Melt the honey in the microwave until its syrup. Using a silicone brush, spread the honey all over the ham till evenly coated. Should use about 1/2 the honey.
3. Mix half of the brown sugar with the nutmeg and cloves and pat over the ham to coat. Apply the rest of the honey to the ham.
4. Mix the panko with the rest of the brown sugar and pat onto the ham till evenly coated (you probably won't need all of it).
5. Put some rum in either a very clean spray bottle or a water bottle and thoroughly wet the panko.
6. Put a probe thermometer in the ham, making sure not to hit the bone. Put the ham in the oven till the thermometer reads 135F.

Now, there are two things you can do after the ham hits the desired temp. You can pull it out and enjoy as is like I did, or you can wet the crust (the top will probably have dried out some instead of caramelizing) and boost the oven to 450F to really caramelize it (should take less than 10 minutes and won't dry your ham out as long as you don't remove the thermometer probe or shift the ham in the pan).

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Ham before getting its rum bath.

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Close-up of the crust before the rum application.

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I paired the ham with some fresh kale that I sauteed with onion and fennel seed, yummy.


Darius T. Williams said... really can't go wrong w/this. Looks amazing!

Ellie Sinclair said...

Hi Mike,
First of all, I love your blog because I love food. Second, I got your message about the RSS feed, and I admit, I'm at a loss when it comes to those things. Would you be able to tell me how to make it work? I thought I turned it on, but I must have done something wrong...