Joni Woolf: An Easter recipe (for the ham you’ve already bought)
Published 1:36 pm Saturday, April 20, 2019
Looking back over the baked ham recipes that have been featured in this column, I was surprised to find I had never written about my favorite — one that came from a neighbor in Macon, and has always turned out just right. Bayne and Mary Smith lived across the street from me and she often brought me over samples of something she’d been cooking — from tomato preserves (great on hot biscuits) to fried cornbread lacies (tiny bites of cornmeal and water fried in bacon grease). When Mary began losing memory, Bayne did more and more of the cooking, and one Easter weekend he crossed the street to give me this recipe. He had prepared it, he said, and thought we would like it as much as they did. He was right. There is no downside to this baked ham, first featured in Southern Living 16 years ago. It is still one to remind you of how someone in your family, a long time ago, might have prepared it.
(Makes 14-15 servings)
4 cups pineapple juice
1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
4 garlic cloves, pressed
1 (7 to 9 pound) bone-in, smoked, fully cooked ham
12 to 16 whole cloves
¼ cup Dijon mustard
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 (20 ounce) can pineapple slices in juice, drained
10 maraschino cherries, halved
Stir together first three ingredients in a saucepan, bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer 25 minutes or until liquid is reduced by half. Pour mixture through a wire mesh strainer into a bowl, discarding solids. Remove skin and excess fat from ham. Make ¼ inch-deep cuts in a diamond design and insert cloves at 1-inch intervals. Place ham in an aluminum-foil lined roasting pan. Spread Dijon mustard evenly over ham. Pat brown sugar on top of the mustard. Pour pineapple juice mixture into pan. Arrange pineapple and cherries evenly over mustard layer on ham; secure with wooden picks. Bake at 325 degrees F. for one hour. Shield with aluminum foil after 1 hour to prevent excess browning and bake an additional 1 to 1 ½ hours or until a meat thermometer inserted into thickest portion registers 140 degrees F., basting every 30 minutes with pan juices. Let stand 15 minutes before slicing.
A good accompaniment to the baked ham is the following salad — a low-calorie, tasty, unusual combination of Brussels sprouts and apples, not your everyday salad, but a good one.
Brussels Sprouts and Apple Salad
(Makes 8 servings)
1 ½ cup hazelnuts
3 pounds Brussels sprouts, thinly sliced
2 large Granny Smith apples, cored and julienned
2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons grated pecorino Romano
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. with a rack set in the middle position. Meanwhile, on a baking sheet, spread nuts in a single layer. Toast until nuts are lightly browned and fragrant, 10 to 15 minutes. Wrap nuts in a clean, damp tea towel and let steam for 3 minutes. Rub nuts in towel to remove loosened skin; let cool completely and set aside. In a large bowl, add Brussels sprouts, apples, and reserved hazelnuts. In a medium bowl, whisk vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper to combine. Toss salad with dressing to coat. Sprinkle salad with pecorino Romano and serve immediately.
Add a good fresh bread, such as a loaf of Café Campesino’s focaccia, and perhaps a generous fruit salad, and you have the makings of a perfect Easter meal — or any other time of celebration or family gathering. Good food helps us cross all kinds of boundaries. So, cook and share with someone. Today. While we have time.
Joni Woolf, a writer and editor, now lives in Schley County, having moved from her home in Macon several years ago. Contact her at email@example.com