December 21, 2012
we aren’t going to cook a goose today (although potatoes roasted in goose fat are particularly delicious). I
do want to take a crack at some traditional Christmas fare, however, just not a goose.
time of year for the smoky, salty, sweet deliciousness of a baked and glazed ham. And you will notice they are on
sale at all the markets as we get close tot eh holiday.
culinary challenge. Almost any that you will find have already been cooked or cured, so you will mostly just be
heating up the ham and adding some flavor in your glaze.
go down easy with some mashed potatoes, green beans, or whatever sides you like. But I have been known to leave
Christmas dinner parties with a giant pig bone in a bag, eager to get home and get a stock pot simmering. You see,
a ham bone is one of the perfect ways to start off so many delicious winter soups and stews. So get a nice ham
(not one of those processed ones, we want the good stuff on the bone), make up a Christmas feast, but save all
that leftover meat and bone to make into a wonderful, warming creation.
ham history. Why is it that this dish, perhaps above all others, is so associated with Christmas?
style="text-indent: 0.5in; margin: 0in 0in 0pt">
"http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ham">hamdish associated with modern
"http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jul">Jul. The tradition is suggested to have begun among the
"Germanic peoples" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Germanic_peoples">Germanic peoplesas a
href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freyr">Freyr, a god in
"http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Germanic_Paganism">Germanic Paganismassociated with
"Boar" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boar">boars, harvest and fertility.
"http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas_ham#cite_note-GODSDAV-1">It was later popularized by
Church as a test of truthful
"http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conversion_from_Judaism">conversion from Judaism
"http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conversion_from_Judaism">conversion from Judaism.
one version, but wikipedia adds that,
"http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas_ham#cite_note-YULEHAM-2">the Christmas ham's origins in
England lay in a:
probability on the Isle of Britain by the Anglo-Saxons, although our knowledge of it comes substantially
from medieval times....[In
in mouth was carried into the banquet hall on a gold or silver dish to the sounds of trumpets and the songs of
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may well be an echo of much more ancient traditions that survive and change in their retelling. And maybe that
history doesn’t really matter so much as the fact that grandmothers have been serving baked ham since time
immemorial, and that is why we treasure it on Christmas.
cured, baking a ham is a very easy task, and one which yields fairly flashy results on a banquet table. One of the
most classic glazes involves pineapple rings, brown sugar, and mustard. \
spiral cut bone in ham in a roasting pan as instructed on the packaging (heat and time varies depending on how big
your ham is). About 30-40 minutes before it is all the way heated, take the ham out of the oven and open up a can
of pineapple rings, reserving the juice aside.
pin them in place. You can use toothpicks, but it is classy in a sort of 1950s way to use whole cloves to pin the
pineapple on. And if you want to go full Betty Draper style, pin a maraschinos cherry in the center of each
brown sugar (some recipes call for light brown sugar, but I like the added depth of flavor from more molasses in
dark brown sugar) and 2-3 tablespoons of mustard. Many old recipes call for yellow mustard, but I strongly prefer
stone ground deli style. Splash in enough of the pineapple juice we’ve been saving to make a nice thick
glaze (maybe 1/3 cup or so). I also like to add a dash of nutmeg, some black pepper, and just a tiny hint of
cayenne pepper for heat, but those are all optional.
smear the mustard, brown sugar, and pineapple juice glaze all over the ham. Most recipes have you glaze right over
the pineapple rings, but it might taste good to get some glaze on first, then attach the rings, then glaze over
the top as well.
half hour or so, and let cook until the glaze hardens a bit and darkens up. Yum! That really is all there is to a
classic holiday ham. It looks great, as though it took more effort than it really did, and tastes great too. The
salty and smoky flavors of the meat play really well with the sweetness and tanginess of the glaze.
style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt"> Another option
would be to cover the ham with apple slices and use maple syrup for a glaze, if you wanted to use alternative
ingredients and flavors. You could even do a teriyaki glaze, if the muse so moves you.
dishes, some tasty cocktails, and most importantly, on your loved ones. The ham will be a great center piece, but
it needn’t be fussed over or cause stress. Carve the ham and let everyone eat their fill. There is a good
chance there will be leftovers,
that ham in the first place! So cut away most of the meat from the bone and put on a big pot to simmer.
We’ve got some soup to make!
a ham hock. Split pea is a favorite of mine. Black beans also go great with ham. White bean and ham is a diner
staple. And today I have my eye on a simple lentil soup with ham flavoring. Actually, most of the ham based soup
recipes that come to mind also use dried beans of some sort, probably because the meaty flavors do a lot to the
blandness of beans. Ham and potato soups work for much the same reason. Of course, all of these recipes could be
made vegetarian. But to me, the ham just adds so much more flavor.
smoked ham bone or 2 smoked ham hocks
chopped into bite sized pieces (optional)
cups), picked over and rinsed
cup chopped carrot
end up a bit bland unless you sauté other veggies and add them too)
also incredibly simple. Chop your veggies, throw everything into a big pot, and simmer, partially covered,
stirring occasionally, until tender. I know, it is almost disappointing how easy that is. But this time of year,
when there are so many demands on our time, it is nice to have this sort of set it and forget it recipe. You could
even make this in a crock pot if you’d like to.
lentils to get tender and all the flavors to meld. Add a lot of fresh ground black pepper to taste. It is unlikely
the soup will need any salt, what with the ham and broth we added. Discard the bone (chopping off any extra meat),
the bay leaf, and cinnamon stick before serving.
a gentle boil in the beginning, but then you want to back the heat way down to low and cook it for a long time on
a simmer. This will bring out the best flavors and leave ingredients intact. This ham and lentil soup is a great
way to warm up after a day playing out in the snow. And it makes perfect use of the leftover Christmas ham. It
will keep in the fridge or on the cold porch for several days and is great to freeze and reheat all winter
hope these simple preparations have gotten you excited for feasting with family and friends this Christmas. Good
food, good people, and good cheer are what the holidays are all about to me. I’d love to hear what foods you
most associate with Christmas, and how you plan to celebrate. Send me any questions or comments to
"mailto:Isaac@kohoradio.com">Isaac@kohoradio.com. Cooking local in the KOHO Kitchen, I’m Isaac