April 1, 2015 | Posted by Stephanie Banyas
I do not really like eggs, but I like ham. I like it in a house, I would eat it with a mouse (which, unfortunately, is a real possibility in Manhattan). I will eat it here or there or anywhere…I will eat it plain but, truth be told, I really prefer ham glazed. Second only to turkey, a glazed ham is an iconic holiday centerpiece, and was always served for Easter dinner when I was growing up.
Making a glaze is so easy and fun, in fact, I bet at any moment you could whip one together from your pantry. Glazes are really made from pantry staples: jams, syrup, spices, sugar, vinegar, ketchup and mustard are at the base of any great glaze.
Glazes can add lots of flavor and great texture to meat, fish and vegetables because as the glaze heats in the oven, the sugar begins to caramelize and eventually creates a rich, glossy coating. The glazes below were all created for ham/pork, but all of them would be great on chicken, lamb and fish, too! My one rule when using a glaze that is pretty high in sugar or sugar-rich ingredients (which these are) is as follows: do not start basting with the glaze until the last 30 minutes of baking. You want some texture and a bit of charring…but if you glaze any sooner, it will just burn.
A typical rule, according to the people who make ham rules, is that you will need one cup of glaze per five pounds of meat. So, if need be, double or triple these glaze recipes to best suit your holiday ham.
Hams are cuts of pork that come from the hind leg of the hog. Hams are available fresh or cured, and sometimes smoked. A whole ham can weigh anywhere from 10 to 20 pounds, but are often sold in halves. Ham, believe it or not, is low in fat (but very high in sodium). It's available bone-in, semi-boneless or boneless. There are three basic types of ham:
Fresh hams are not cured or smoked. They are grayish-pink in color when raw and when cooked they are grayish-white. Fresh hams are cooked using the same methods used for other fresh pork cuts and have more in common with pork roast than with ham from your local deli.
By far the most popular ham in the US is the wet cured ham. These hams have been cured by soaking in or injecting with water and brining ingredients. The brine consists of water and flavorings like salt, sugar, spices and other various seasonings. The curing process is used to preserve, develop a deeper color, and intensify the flavor of the ham. The ham may also be cooked or smoked during this process. The flavor is less intense than a dry cured ham and is commonly found in a typical grocery store. It is popular for its pink color, moistness and sweet flavor. See Stephanie's recipe for roasted wet cured ham
Dry Cured Hams
Dry cured hams have been cured without the injection of water. A curing compound consisting of salt and other ingredients such as sugar, sodium nitrate, nitrates, phosphates and other seasonings is rubbed on the surface of the ham. The ham is then hung to dry, allowing it to age anywhere from a few weeks to over a year, depending on the variety of ham. Ham that is dry cured is saltier and drier than the typical wet-cured ham you find in grocery stores, and is very similar to Italian prosciutto or Spanish serrano in flavor and texture.