Try Hamming it up on T-Day

Halloween is certainly my favorite holiday and if it were up to me a fall feast much like Thanksgiving would accompany Halloween, only with less pilgrims and more ghouls. Despite my favoritism Thanksgiving is the holiday that I have cooked every single year since I graduated from college. Over the years the guest list developed into a group of friends and family who expected to see each other at my table sometimes for the only time they would that year. Many friendships have been formed over that meal and a few have been put to rest. This year for the first time in 17 years I will not be hosting Thanksgiving and will be going to a friend’s home. We are sharing the cooking duties and I though I am looking forward to it, the change in venue is tinged slightly with a hue of nostalgia. Ultimately the memories that are scratching at the door are of my younger self, my younger life and of all the dishes that I have made over the years, some improved to perfection and some abandoned. Obviously, I will not be cooking every dish that I usually do but that doesn’t mean that I can’t write about them.

Turkey is one of the most overrated birds to cook. I personally find duck, fresh ham, prime rib, salmon, (my first Thanksgiving, I was in Portland, OR) Dungeness crab, (Seattle) leg of lamb, crown roast of pork and Cornish game hens more fun to make, and more satisfying in my belly. Without a doubt turkey is a cheap option by the pound and if ordered from an organic farm and brined I can get a little excited because brining is close to pickling and let’s not kid ourselves, I’m a pickling fiend. Which is what we are doing this year. But for those of you out there like myself that like turkey well enough, but don’t get super excited about it, we have so many other options.

Fresh local ham can be cheaper than turkey pound for pound and certainly more delicious. I had never had a fresh ham before I made this recipe several years ago and it was honestly this recipe that started my true awareness of the pig as the wonderful edible bounty that it is. I have never looked back. The recipe below from Food and Wine Magazine (I had to look it up, my recipe was cut out and pasted into one of my cookbooks) calls for a smoked ham, but the first time I made it there were only fresh hams at the butcher, we so thoroughly enjoyed the results that I continue to make it with fresh ham instead of smoked.

The only other adjustment that I made was that I used orange marmalade sometimes instead of the lemon-lime, but I only recommend doing this if you are using a good brand like Hero, that isn’t too sweet, otherwise stick to the lemon-lime. Or if you want to get adventurous I do recommend making your own. Marmalades are simple and can be made with anything from Meyer lemons to grapefruits to kumquats. 1 Green Generation has a good recipe.

Lemon and PickledPeppadew Glazed Ham

1 7-½ pound bone in ham (fresh or smoked)

1 lemon, thinly sliced

1 large white onion, thinly sliced

3 cups homemade chicken stock

3/4 cup lemon-lime marmalade

¼ cup seeded and coarsely chopped pickled hot Peppadews

¼ cup grainy mustard

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons bourbon

2 tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in 3 tablespoons water

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Removed the skin from the ham, but leave the fat layer on the meat so that it is at least ¼ of an inch thick. Score the fat in a crosshatch pattern at ½ inch intervals. Try not to cut the fat all the way to the meat. You can ask your butcher to do this for you. Put the ham in a roasting pan and scatter the lemon and onion slices around it and pour in the chicken stock.

In a food processor combine the marmalade, pickled peppers, mustard, lemon juice and bourbon, blend until a course purée. Brush the top of the ham with 2 tablespoon of the glaze cover with foil and bake for 1 hour.

Remove the foil and brush the ham with ½ cup of the glaze and bake for 1 more hour. Leave the foil off.

Brush the ham again with another ½ cup of the glaze and bake until the ham is browned and the meat thermometer says 155 F about 30 more minutes.

Transfer the ham to a cutting board and tent with foil to keep warm. Skim the fat off of the pan juices. Boil the juiced in the pan until the liquid reduced to 2 ½ cups, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the cornstarch slurry along with the remaining ½ cup of glaze and simmer over a medium high heat until the sauce thickens, about 5 minutes. Slice the ham and serve with the sauce.

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