There are lots of ways to serve ham. Most will agree that the best way is to serve it sliced, with a good chunk of bread and a full-bodied wine. And I agree, that’s a good way to do it. But we can also transform ham into the central dish of a holiday feast or a special occasion.
Ham is the generic name of the product of the product obtained from the rear legs of the pig, and then salted and cured in its natural state. The front legs of the pig, though subject to the same process, are called picnic ham “paleta or paletilla” in Spanish. The two most widely known varieties of cured ham are the serrano and ibérico hams from Spain and the Italian prosciutto.
In the Caribbean, ham is present at many special occasions. The holiday table that lacks glazed ham among its offerings is not considered to be truly complete. The fact is any preparation with ham becomes a simple affair as it only involves bringing in flavors to contrast or complement the flavor of the ham. In the case of glazed ham, we give it a sweet touch, either with pineapple or with pineapple and oranges in syrup. So that it does not come out overly sweet and to highlight the strong flavor of the ham, we place cloves in different parts of the ham so that as it bakes, the aroma of this spice can be absorbed by the meat.
Another advantage of ham is that you can present it in a number of ways and it always looks good. Either whole or sliced, with slices of pineapple or orange, with lemon or mint leaves, a tray with ham at its center is always elegant. What’s more, you can accompany it with any number of side dishes, though potatoes, baked or in salad, is for my taste, the best pairing for ham.
In our recipe, we have added a variation that builds on and enhances the flavor of the ham. In this case, the ingredient is mustard. But not just plain mustard; three different kinds of mustard. Mustard seed, Dijon mustard and honey mustard. If you’re thinking these are very different flavors, you’re right. But when mixing them and adding sugar and other ingredients, we create a very special glaze. When applying it to the ham (the excess fat removed), we’re adding another layer of flavor and aroma that will play an important role when baking the ham.
The glaze will penetrate the juices of the ham and temper its saltiness. It’s important to remember that cooking time should be precise, because the glaze could burn or the texture of the meat could dry out. If you follow this recipe, you’ll be sure to pleasantly surprise your guests, who will wonder just how your ham turned out to be so much more.
Following is the recipe for the Ham with Three-Mustards Glaze, and a side dish as well: Potato Salad with Cilantro Vinaigrette
10–12-pound ham, precooked
About 30 cloves
Orange slices for garnish
For the Ham Glaze:
20 ounces orange juice
2 teaspoon mustard seeds
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons honey mustard
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1. Remove extra fat from ham, leaving approximately ½-inch skin. Make crisscross incisions throughout the ham, and place a clove at each crisscross intersection.
2. In a deep pan, mix orange juice, mustard, nutmeg, brown sugar and pepper. Cook at medium heat for 8–10 minutes or until thickened. Cool at room temperature.
3. With a kitchen brush, spread the glaze over the ham.
4. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Place glazed ham in a roasting pan and cover with aluminum foil.
5. Baste ham with glaze every 20 minutes. Bake until internal temperature of ham reaches 150°F. Cooking time should be 20 minutes per pound. Cover ham during the first three hours and uncover during last hour.
6. Remove from oven and let rest for 15 minutes. Slice, place in tray and garnish with orange slices. Serve with potato salad.
Potato Salad with Cilantro Vinaigrette
2 pounds Idaho potatoes
3 garlic cloves, peeled
¼ onion, peeled
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1½ tablespoons salt
6 turkey bacon strips, diced
2 scallion stems, finely cut
1 tablespoon shallot, finely diced
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1½ tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon cilantro, cut in small pieces
1 ounce goat cheese
½ tablespoon fresh oregano, finely cut
1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
2. Wash potatoes, leave skin and cut in quarters.
3. Boil potatoes in a pan with water, salt, garlic, onion and pepper for 8–10 minutes or until potatoes are cooked but firm.
4. Bake turkey bacon strips in the oven until crisp (10 to 12 minutes). Cool and cut in small pieces.
5. Place potatoes, bacon and scallions in a deep glass dish.
6. In a wide-mouth jar, combine oil, vinegar, shallots and cilantro, and mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour over potatoes.
7. Sprinkle with goat cheese and oregano before serving.
To learn more about me or my recipes, visit me at DenisseOller.com and at AARP, where I am a chef and nutrition expert.