Making an Easter ham? Make sure it has the best glaze
If ham is on your Easter menu, a proper glaze is the secret to a tasty dish that makes for excellent leftovers — and theGrio has recipe ideas for both.
Each year, when Easter came around, my Aunt Emma always had to have a new hat. Since her husband, my uncle, was a preacher in tiny Eastover, South Carolina, she wanted to look her best at church.
My aunt didn’t buy hats. She made them.
Her hats were as integral to Easter as another essential event — dinner, with Easter Ham as the centerpiece.
The tradition of eating ham at Easter arose from necessity. According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, families that raised hogs would slaughter them in the fall to have meat to eat during the cold months. Easter ushered in the spring season, making it the perfect time for a feast to finish last season’s cured meat.
As the years went on, cooks started experimenting with different ham preparations; some added pineapple (not for me) or homemade cranberry sauce (too sweet for me).
But the right glaze on the proper ham leads to a tasty dish that makes excellent leftovers.
What’s the right ham?
Get a bone-in ham. It’s more flavorful, and you can use that leftover ham bone for soups and stews. Yes, it’s harder to cut, but it tastes much better than the boneless variety.
What’s the right size ham?
An eight to ten-pound ham should be enough to feed ten hungry people. That’s a lot of food, so make sure your guests bring their stretchy pants.
How long should I cook the ham?
These hams have already been pre-cooked, so you must slowly warm them in the oven. Put the ham in a roasting pan with some stock or water in the bottom, cover the ham with foil, and roast at 325 degrees to an internal temperature of 145 degrees, which the USDA recommends. That’ll take 15 to 20 minutes per pound. Don’t guess based on time since internal oven temperatures vary. Get a good meat thermometer.
What’s the best glaze for my ham?
Most glazes use a combination of brown sugar, honey, or maple syrup as a base. Traditional glazes are about two parts brown sugar to roughly one part honey or syrup. I use less brown sugar because I find that a tad sweet. From there, it’s a matter of adding the favors you want. Cloves tend to be a popular addition.
Can I mix everything and pour it over my ham?
Not right away. You have to cook down your glaze to get to a syrup-like consistency. Then, spread the glaze on the ham during the last 30 minutes of cooking. If you leave the glaze on too long, the sugars could burn.
With all that in mind, I like using brown sugar, honey, and rye whiskey glaze. The rye whiskey adds a nice hint of spice.
Brown sugar, honey, and rye whiskey glaze
¾ cup brown sugar
¼ cup honey
¼ cup orange juice
Three tablespoons of 100% rye whiskey (bourbon is OK, but you’ll lose the spice.)
Four springs of rosemary (optional)
Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan, occasionally stirring over low heat until the mixture thickens, about 10 minutes. Be sure not to burn it. Remove from heat and set aside. Uncover the ham and spread the glaze over the top when it has about 30 minutes left to cook.
So now you’ve made your ham, and chances are you’ll have a bunch of leftovers. That’s good! We all know leftover ham makes excellent ham and eggs in the morning, ham sandwiches at lunch, and a delicious ham leftover dinner (with the leftover sides). But here are a few more easy and creative ways to use that extra ham.
HAM AND CHEESE CROQUETTES
These fried-to-a-crisp treats make great appetizers. Make them as big or small as you like.
8 ounces finely chopped ham
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2.5 cups breadcrumbs
Oil for frying
- Place the chopped ham in a bowl and add the mustard, salt, pepper, and cheese. Mix, taste, and adjust seasoning as needed (I like a heavier mustard taste, so I tend to add more).
- Beat together two eggs and then stir into the ham mixture
- Add in two cups of the breadcrumbs and stir until the mixture forms a ball
- Beat the remaining egg and set aside.
- Take the remaining cup of breadcrumbs and put it on a plate or in a bowl. Scoop out two tablespoons (more if we want bigger croquettes) of the mixture and form a ball or disk. Dip it into the egg, and then roll it into the breadcrumb. Repeat until all of the ham mixture is gone. Add more breadcrumbs to the plate if needed.
- When all the balls/disks are coated, carefully drop them into the hot oil and cook until golden.
HAM AND BEAN SOUP
Simple, delicious, and skips the hours needed to flavor water with a ham bone.
I stalk celery, chopped
1 small onion, roughly chopped
1 large carrot, chopped (you can also use frozen)
1 tablespoon of diced garlic
2 tablespoons of butter
8 ounces of leftover ham
1 can great northern beans, drained
1 can cannellini beans, drained
2 cups of chicken stock
Salt and Pepper to taste
Add the celery, onion, carrot, and garlic to a pan with two tablespoons of butter, and:
- Cook over medium heat until the onions start to wilt, about 5 minutes.
- Add the ham, stir, and let cook for three to five minutes, until the bottom of the pan begins to brown (but doesn’t burn)
- Add the two cans of beans, followed by the stock. Scrape the bottom of the pan and simmer for 30 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
A delicious, elegant sandwich that takes little time. Note: This is a fairly standard recipe. I tweak it with two cheese slices on each sandwich instead of one because I love the gooey flavor, and add an extra teaspoon of mustard.
Makes two sandwiches.
1 cup milk
Four slices of white bread, the thicker, the better (think Texas toast)
2 teaspoons mayonnaise, in total
2 teaspoons stone ground mustard, in total (yellow or Dijon works, too)
Four slices of ham, more if you prefer.
Two slices of gruyere (preferred) or Swiss cheese. Provolone works in a pinch.
Four tablespoons butter, in total
- In a large bowl, beat together the eggs and milk and set aside
- Take two pieces of bread and place one teaspoon of mayonnaise on one side and one teaspoon of mustard on the other
- Place two slices of ham and one slice of cheese on the bread
- Take the sandwich and liberally coat it in the egg mixture until completely covered
- Melt two tablespoons of butter in a pan and cook the sandwich until it’s brown and crispy on both sides. Serve immediately.
Ray Marcano is a veteran journalist who loves to cook and write about food. He’s the former national president of the Society of Professional Journalists, a two-time Pulitzer juror, and a Fulbright Fellow.
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