Incredible. I woke up this morning, turned on my computer to write this article and realized; Wow, I must need another cup of coffee. Did I sleep through a month or so of winter? The way this winter went, I don’t think I needed to hibernate for even a week. Well, there was that one cold week early in the year, but other than that it was hard to even notice we had a winter. But here it is. I’m writing about Easter already and the temperatures have been closer to May. I know, I know, don’t count your chickens before they hatch. We will surely still get hit with at least one more big storm. Right?
When it came to holidays and their respective meals, there were only three that received special attention in my family – Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. We rarely did the corned beef and cabbage for St. Patrick’s Day, anything special for Fourth of July or any other of the smaller holidays, but for the three big ones, we always had an awesome dinner. No powdered milk or dehydrated mashed potatoes, these were the meals that everything was fresh.
Thanksgiving and Christmas always meant turkey for us, and then for Easter we would have a ham. There were a few differences in that we did have ham regularly throughout the year as opposed to the turkey, which only landed on our table on those two occasions.
The difference was that the Easter ham was a real, bone-in, platter-filling piece of meat that looked like a leg as compared to the normal ham that was a flat, triangular piece of pork that came with a special key to turn around the can to open it. It looked like one of those three corner hats the colonial militia wore, where as on Easter, the ham came out looking like a Norman Rockwell painting.
Don’t get me wrong, I loved the ham anyway; it was just a lot better on Easter. It was my Mom’s glaze that made any ham taste really good. It is wicked simple and you simply baste the ham every so often while it cooks. I’m also going to give you a few other alternative things you can add or substitute to the glaze to change things up or add a little more zip, so like always, use this recipe as a guide and feel free to add or subtract ingredients to suite your own taste buds. Have a happy Easter and enjoy.
2 C brown sugar
4 T Dijon mustard
2 t powdered cloves
1 whole clove per triangle (explained below)
1/3 C pineapple juice
1 can pineapple rings
Score the ham every inch about one-half inch deep across the side, over the top and down the other side. Turn the ham 90 degrees and repeat so that there is a diamond pattern sliced one-half inch deep over the entire ham. Place one whole clove in each diamond.
Combine all the ingredients, putting the juice in last. Do not use too much juice because the glaze should be a little thick. Cover the ham with some of the glaze. Place the pineapple chunks over the ham and then a little more glaze. Bake the ham according to the directions, basting it about every 20 minutes or so.
Spoon any leftover pan drippings over the sliced ham that will be used for sandwiches before you put the meat away in the refrigerator.
One good alternative is to replace the brown sugar with 1 C maple syrup reduced by half. You might want to only use 1 T Dijon, a pinch of ground cloves, and just a few drops if any pineapple juice so you get that real maple flavor without too much masking.
Other good additions include: fresh ginger finely minced, a little chili paste to add some zip or, of course, honey.
Smitty is a personal chef specializing in dinner parties, cooking classes and special events. Trained under Master Chef Anton Flory at Top Notch Resort in Stowe, Vt., Smitty is known for his creative use of fresh ingredients. He has been a chef for PGA’s Memorial Tournament for more than 15 years and ran the main kitchen at the World Games. For more information and archived copies of Stir it Up, visit chefsmitty.com. Smitty welcomes questions and comments at [email protected] or (530) 412-3598.