Post #450 Glazing the Bone

January 18, 2016 at 9:57 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

For no other reason than we had it in the freezer and needed to use it, we made a great big bone in spiral cut ham this weekend.  It was not the classic Honeybaked ham; it was home cooked with a homemade glaze.

Whenever I think about ham glazes, I think about the “standard” glaze used since the middle 1900s.  It consisted of pineapple juice and brown sugar mostly and was basted onto the ham at regular intervals to impart a sweet and fruity flavor to counterbalance the saltiness of the ham itself.  There was a great Simpson’s bit where Marge is planning a dinner party where she’s making a glazed ham and decides she has time for one more baste on the ham.  She opens the oven and the ham is so hot, and there’s so much juice and sugar on the ham, the whole thing is glowing like a nuclear reactor.

Growing up, my mom made glazed ham fairly regularly, always a huge piece of meat with the bone in the center.  She did the same thing with it every time.  She cross hatched the top and stuck whole cloves in the intersections of the cuts.  She placed pineapple rings in a regular pattern over the top.  Then she made a glaze out of the pineapple juice and brown sugar.  Sometimes she would add a spoonful of prepared mustard to give it a kick.  The glaze would crust up and brown.  The fruit would char and get crispy.  The cloves just sat there.  You didn’t want to accidentally eat one of those suckers.  Nasty critters, they were.

That’s the same glaze everyone I knew made.  There were slight variations but for the most part it was just pineapple juice and brown sugar.

When I moved to the metro DC area, I “discovered” another glazed ham called a Honeybaked Ham.  There were specialty stores for this delicacy.    It was spiral cut on the bone so slicing it was easy.  They baked the ham in a honey sauce, then just before packaging, they would put sugar on the top and torch it creating a caramelized crust.  People were addicted to that crust.

Once I realized there were other ham glazes, I started experimenting with my own creations.  One of my favorites was to mix mustard and honey in a small amount of hot water and spread that over the ham about half way through the cooking process.  I’ve also used straight barbeque sauce right out of the bottle.  I’ve never put cloves on the ham.  I never liked the flavor they impart.  And they can get in the way, and destroy your tongue if you happen to bite one.

Once Partner/Spouse and got together and compared notes on our cooking methods, etc., we agreed we hated the standard glazes for most meats and embarked on a campaign to learn new glazes, and new techniques.  We tried some that were less than successful, but mostly we found glazes that were good, just nothing really terrific.

Then he found one that turned the corner for us.

It was a root beer glaze that needed to simmer for a couple of hours to blend the flavors and to reduce to a thick, sticky glaze that would adhere to the ham, or whatever other meat we were cooking.

You put no more than a quarter cup of brown sugar in a pan with a couple of tablespoons of water and let the sugar dissolve.  Then you add a tablespoon of either Worcestershire sauce or soy sauce, plus a couple of teaspoons of vinegar, and a pinch of pepper flakes.  Then you add an entire can of root beer.  Don’t use diet because you want the sugar to caramelize.  You can add some onion powder if you want.  We did.  Put it on a very low heat and allow to simmer for at least a couple of hours.  You want to gently steam the water and bubbles out of the glaze.  Don’t stir unless you think you need to keep it from burning.

You can do all this while the ham is cooking.  Once the ham is about 3/4 of the way done, spoon one quarter of the glaze over the ham.  About fifteen or twenty minutes later, baste again.  Keep doing this until the glaze is done and the ham has a deep rich brown color.  Finish the ham, slice, and eat.

This weekend, though, we found we didn’t have any root beer.  The only soda in the house was Pepsi.  Since we weren’t going to use the recipe we knew, he decided to experiment.  We ended up with Pepsi, strong Irish mustard, lingonberry jam, and a pinch of pepper flakes.

Boy, did THAT taste good on the ham!

We also had mashed potatoes with celery root, and sautéed green beans and asparagus with onions and almonds.

No reason for a big dinner except we had the stuff on hand.


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