The decision was made to have ham this year for the main course of Christmas dinner. Now, you must understand that I’m not a big fan of ham. I don’t mind pork as a rule, but ham and I have never been kin. Maybe it’s the texture, maybe I’m just eaten too much greasy ham… I’m not truly certain except that I generally choose any other protein for the meal’s centerpiece.
this year, since much of my family likes ham (especially my Dad), and it’s been a while since we’ve had it at any of the big family festival meals, Ken and I decided to give it a try. For nearly a week before our Christmas food shopping Ken began to peruse cookbooks, food websites, and blogs in search of a ham recipe that seemed to fit the criteria for what we expected a ‘good’ ham would be. First, it needed to be slow cooked, similar to how we do our pulled pork. Second, it needed to have a sweet glaze/crust, but not maple flavored, and third, it needed to start with a ready to cook (not precooked and not smoked) ham. After much reading and musing, Ken chose Alton Brown’s recipe. We’ve had success with some of his other recipes in the past including his rib recipe for which Ken’s soon to be famous rib recipe is loosely based on.
Let me say this … I ate ham at Christmas dinner and I enjoyed it. I’m still not convinced that I want ham each year, but the flavor was more than palatable, and BOTH of my kids ate the ham with zeal.
Here then are some photos from our process of the ham prep.
Ham ala Alton Brown
1 city style (brined) ham, hock end* (bone in)
1/4 cup brown mustard
2 cups dark brown sugar
1-ounce bourbon (poured into a spritz bottle)
2 cups crushed ginger snap cookies
Heat oven to 250 degrees F.
Remove ham from bag, rinse and drain thoroughly. Place ham, cut side down, in a roasting pan. Using a small paring knife or clean utility knife set to the smallest blade setting, score the ham from bottom to top, spiraling clockwise as you cut. (If you're using a paring knife, be careful to only cut through the skin and first few layers of fat). Rotate the ham after each cut so that the scores are no more than 2-inches across. Once you've made it all the way around, move the knife to the other hand and repeat, spiraling counter clockwise. The aim is to create a diamond pattern all over the ham. (Don't worry too much about precision here.)
Tent the ham with heavy duty foil, insert a thermometer,
and cook for 3 to 4 hours or until the internal temperature at the deepest part of the meat registers 130 degrees F.
NOTE: Notice the orangish liquid under the ham and remember that nothing else went on the ham or in the pan; that is rendered fat.
Remove and use tongs to pull away the diamonds of skin and any sheets of fat that come off with them.
Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
Dab dry with paper towels, then brush on a liberal coat of mustard, using either a basting brush or a clean paint brush (clean as in never-touched paint).
liberal coating of mustard – application devise was a spoon. Mustard was dolloped on with bowl of spoon and spread with back of spoon.
Sprinkle on brown sugar, packing loosely as you go until the ham is coated.
Spritz this layer lightly with bourbon, then loosely pack on as much of the crushed cookies as you can.
covering with crushed cookies – I crushed the cookies in the food processor until they were finely crushed
Insert the thermometer (don't use the old hole) and return to the oven (uncovered). Cook until interior temperature reaches 140 degrees F, approximately 1 hour.
Let the roast rest for 1/2 hour before carving.
ready for carving
*Cook's note: A city ham is basically any brined ham that's packed in a plastic bag, held in a refrigerated case and marked "ready to cook", "partially cooked" or "ready to serve". Better city hams are also labeled "ham in natural juices".