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Entertaining the Question
Spring Ham
April, 2006 - Issue #18
Thanks to tradition or mere serendipity, certain holidays are linked to certain foods. At Thanksgiving there is turkey, at Christmas it is prime rib. At Easter it's lamb, or at most homes it's ham.

The tradition of having ham in spring goes way back into history. The early Romans used to store pork underground by the sea in winter in order to have salty cured ham in spring. In the United States before refrigeration, pork would be set to cure in fall so that the meat could age safely during winter. Come spring, those prized home-cured hams became the centerpiece of Easter feasts all across the country.

In today's world, the quality of the ham is entirely dependent on the quality of the cure. A good old-fashioned cure begins with a real brine of salt, water and sugar and concludes with a long period of smoking. A high-tech cure begins with a chemically-injected brine and ends with a douse of liquid smoke. Yes, you can taste the difference. Choose a high quality brand for best taste.

One of our clients begged us to make a ham for her Christmas dinner, so the challenge was on. It was amazing what I found in my research: Ham with a marmalade glaze served with pineapple mint relish; ham with a chipotle-orange glaze...

Bourbon-Glazed Ham with a Tangerine Chutney was the winner. Remember the rule when making this - one shot for the recipe, one shot for the cook!

Ham with Bourbon, Molasses and Pecan Glaze
1/2 cup apple juice
1/4 cup bourbon
1-3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 cup pecans, toasted and finely ground
1/4 cup mild-flavored molasses
3 tbsp dry mustard
1 whole bone-in 16-18 pound ham (I have used the one sold at Costco)
Tangerine Chutney (recipe to follow)


Boil juice and bourbon in small saucepan until reduced to 1/3 cup, about 6 minutes. Combine sugar, pecans, molasses and mustard in bowl. Add bourbon mixture to form thick paste.

Position your oven rack to the bottom third of oven, preheat to 325 degrees. Line large roasting pan with foil, leaving overhang on all sides. Trim off skin and all but 1/4" fat from ham. Place ham fat side up in prepared pan. Roast about 10 minutes per pound, for a 16 pound ham that would be 2 hours 40 minutes.

Remove ham from oven; increase oven temperature to 425 degrees. Lightly score fat on ham in diamond pattern. Rub glaze thickly over top and sides of ham. Return ham to oven and roast until glaze is deep brown and bubbling, about 25 minutes. Let ham stand at least 20 minutes. Serve with Tangerine Chutney - this made seem involved, but it is so worth it!

Tangerine Chutney
9 seedless tangerines
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp salt
1-1/2 cups red jalapeno pepper jelly
3/4 cup orange marmalade


Finely grate enough peel off tangerines to measure three tablespoons. Using small sharp knife, cut all peel and white pith off tangerines. Cut between membranes, releasing the segments. Place in sieve over bowl and let drain at least two hours - you can combine the juice with champagne - it's delicious!

Stir vinegar, mustard and salt in medium bowl until mustard dissolves. Mix in jelly, marmalade, and three tablespoons grated tangerine peel. Cover and chill chutney base up to six hours.

Enjoy! If there are leftovers, imagine the ham sandwich this will make!

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Cindy never liked ham before she tasted her own Bourbon-Glazed version. Says a lot about the recipe... Cindy and Tamra own RSVP Catering.
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