Along with the first blooming crocus, the sighting of the first robin, pro baseball training camps, and the tapping of maple trees for their sap, an Easter ham is one of the most celebrated and classic signs of spring.
In days gone by, hams were cured, smoked, and dried by hanging in the fall, wintering over until early spring when the first emerging hams were brought to the table.
A Great Glaze: The Crowning Touch
The crowning touch to any ham is a complementary glaze that counterbalances the fundamental flavors of smoked ham. It is the point of departure that distinguishes one ham from the next.
In creating a glaze, keep in mind a couple of basic ideas:
- All glazes contain some form of sugar, whether it is brown sugar, honey, fruit juice, fruit preserves, maple sugar, soda pop (cola or root beer), or even pomegranate syrup. The sky’s the limit. The sweetness helps to undercut any saltiness in the meat.
- Some type of acid helps to balance the richness of the meat. Vinegar, mustard (which usually contains vinegar), wine, or citrus juice are all eligible components.
- Additional flavorings or aromatic spices create the individual personality of the glaze. Ginger, cloves, anise, bourbon or whiskey, beer, or cranberries are all good anchor ingredients for a unique ham glaze.
Keep in mind that the glaze is best when applied within the last 30 to 45 minutes of cooking time. That is enough to allow the sugars in the glazes to caramelize on the surface of the ham without burning or scorching. A glaze does not penetrate the meat but adds flavors notes to the outside layer to form a slightly crunchy crust on the ham.
Looking for more ideas to turn your Easter ham into something special, unique, and inspired this year? Why not turn to Pinterest—it’s a great idea-generator for recipes and presentation ideas alike.
Sure, pineapple slices, cherries, and cloves are traditional and pretty. But how about fresh sliced peaches? Champagne? Ginger preserves? We’ve created a Pinterest board all about ham and the wonderful ways it can be prepared and presented.
Check it out for great ideas like Peach-Glazed Ham, Root Beer Glazed Ham, Apple-Cherry-Maple Glazed Ham. How about a ham with a honey glaze, scored so that the glaze really soaks in!
Part of the celebratory feel of making an Easter ham is the sheer size of a whole ham, which spells abundance no matter how you slice it, particularly when you contemplate what to do with all the delicious leftovers.
When buying a ham, leftovers are inevitable. Of course, sandwiches are always a day-after option. But there’s so much more you can do to get as many dishes and as much flavor out of your ham so that not even a single morsel is wasted.
Arm yourself with an arsenal of ham recipes and you’ll be sure to use the entire ham efficiently—right down to the bone, literally. Ham Tetrazzini is always a tasty option, as is a great quiche or casserole. You can also add ham to leftover mashed or au gratin potatoes—check out this gorgeous photo. Yum!
Here are some more ideas for your ham leftovers:
Ham Steak with Orange
For those who love the sweeter side of ham, this recipe calls for brown sugar, honey, pineapple juice, and orange slices.
Ham Bone and Split Pea Soup
This hearty soup will keep you warm during the spring thaw—just add a salad and crusty bread and it’s a full meal in itself!
Baked Ham with Beer
Add a unique flavor to your ham by using your favorite brew in this recipe.