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If you're serving ham for Easter, you'll want to glaze with one of Rachel Forrest's creative variations on a sweet-hot theme. [Wikipedia]

Wine Me Dine Me: Glazed, but not confused

Ham or lamb for Easter? I know some of you go for brisket or something meatless on the Easter holiday but for those baking a big ham whether smoked, spiraled or otherwise, that ham is going to need a glaze, usually something sweet, often mixed with heat. There’s usually brown sugar or maple syrup involved, perhaps some preserves, sometimes mustard.

A good glaze makes a ham both look and taste better, adding flavor nuances to the salty, smoky ham and thanks to the sugar in most glazes from brown sugar, syrup or preserves, a glossy, caramelized coating. If you’re not using a spiral ham, be sure to score the top of the ham with shallow cuts about 2 inches apart in a nice pattern for presentation purposes. If you’re a fan of sticking cloves all over the ham, keep in mind that the flavor of clove can overwhelm your glaze

Some will glaze the ham with a basting brush during just  the last 20-30 minutes of baking to avoid burning, but I like to baste throughout, every 30 minutes or so,  like I might a roasted chicken.  I like to make extra so I can create a sauce at the end and there should be a combination of ham drippings and glaze in the bottom of the pan to make a sauce or gravy with.

So, what are you making this glaze out of? I like improv on this one both in terms of what and how much. Taste as you go. You’ll need something sweet like apricot preserves, orange marmalade, honey, brown sugar or maple syrup but then you can add some snap with mustard, horseradish or chipotle. Booze, like bourbon or rum is also an option. Other flavors like ginger, sesame, sage and sriracha can be added to the mix.

Here are some ideas:

The very basic old-school glaze is simply to mix 1 cup  brown sugar and 2 tablespoons mustard in a bowl until smooth, but I’ve been using this recipe I got from Southern Living way back in 2007 for my bone-in ham.  

Sweet-Hot Plum-Glazed Ham

Adapted from Southern Living

1 c. plum preserves

1/2 c. orange juice

2 T. lime juice

1 T. yellow mustard

1 T. honey

2 t. minced fresh ginger

1/2 t. dried crushed red pepper

1 (7-lb.) smoked fully cooked, bone-in ham

 

Stir together first 7 ingredients in a saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring constantly, 5 minutes or until preserves are melted and mixture is blended. Pour half of plum preserve mixture into a microwave-safe bowl.

Trim excess fat on ham to 1/8-inch thickness. If desired, make long, shallow cuts over entire ham, forming diamond patterns. Place ham on a wire rack in an aluminum foil-lined roasting pan. Brush ham with a portion of plum preserve mixture from saucepan.

Bake ham, uncovered, at 350° F on lower oven rack 1 hour and 30 minutes, basting with remaining plum preserve mixture in saucepan every 30 minutes. Loosely cover with aluminum foil, and bake 1 hour and 45 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest portion registers 140° F, basting every 30 minutes. Let ham stand 15 minutes before slicing. Garnish with pineapple, if desired.

Heat the remaining  plum preserve mixture and serve with ham. Serve ham with warm mixture.

From there, you can just come up with your own ideas, or do what I did, ask your Facebook friends for their ideas. With these, just mix ingredients to taste, heat and simmer until smooth and thick.

Bourbon, Molasses, and Clove. 1 cup molasses, 1/2 cup bourbon, and 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves. Heat and simmer until thick.

Pineapple, Apricot, and Ginger. Mix 1 cup crushed pineapple in pineapple juice, 1 cup apricot preserves, and 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger.

Cranberry and horseradish and ground clove.

Maple and brown sugar

Honey, mango, sage and cayenne

Mustard and brown sugar

Equal parts brown sugar, bitter marmalade, whole grain Dijon mustard

 

Bacon jam with a sprinkle of cinnamon and sugar.

 

Brown sugar and  pineapple juice

Sriracha, brown sugar, pineapple, bourbon and lemon zest

Honey, mustard and bourbon

Cherries, hyssop and honey with zested orange peel or clove.

Melted apple jelly, Dijon mustard, a dash of lemon juice, a bit of ground cloves, and an optional splash of bourbon.

Champagne brine then "decorate " with fresh pinapple rings held in place with fresh clove and Italian dried cherries. Glaze with almond paste dark brown sugar and dry white wine. Before glazing remove plneapple, clove and cheries. Save for a garnish on serving platter

Baked ham in tropical fruit juice.

WildCheff's Sugar and Spice Glaze which doubles as a spice rub for making Glazed Bacon.

Blackberry, orange bourbon jam

 

Glaze on!

 

— Rachel Forrest is a former restaurant owner who lives in Exeter, NH  (and Austin, TX). She can be reached by e-mail at rforrest@gatehousemedia.com

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