Easter Ham How-To

04/06/2012 11:25 AM |

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Throwing an Easter party this year? A classic roast ham is an easy and crowd-pleasing option, as far as meat-eating crowds go. It’s much less fussy to pull off than the holiday’s other go-to roast, lamb. And who doesn’t love a smoked piece of swine? So let’s say you lugged back a few pounds of a bone-in, smoked ham from the butcher shop, and not sure what to do next. There is actually no right or wrong way to bake and glaze a ham. Smoked ham is already cured and fully-cooked, so unlike with a turkey, you don’t have to worry about serving it raw. You do want to make sure that you don’t dry it out, but gently bring it to a juicy, crisp and gleaming centerpiece that’ll have the neighbors drooling in the hall. Here’s the quick run-through of how to ham it up.

-Thaw ham, if frozen, thoroughly in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours if it was completely frozen.

-Bring a large pot of water big enough to submerge the ham to a boil. Submerge the ham, and boil
gently for 20 minutes. (This will help keep the meat juicy and moist, and remove excess saltiness.) Reserve the cooking liquid to make soup with (see “leftovers” below).

-Cool ham and now score the thick skin by engraving a cross-hatch pattern across it with a paring knife. Cut through a little of the layer of fat beneath, but do not cut deep enough to reach the flesh. Scoring will allow the tough skin to become crisp and less leathery.

-Brush the ham all over with maple syrup (or another glaze of your choice).

-Place ham fatty side-up on a roasting rack and roast at 325 degrees for 2 hours, stopping to apply more glaze every half-hour or so.

-Transfer to a carving board and try your best to cut uniform, round pieces; once you get to the bone, carve off narrower, straight pieces rotating around the bone.

-Eat!

-Leftovers? All those little pieces of ham that don’t make good sandwich slices can be used in a lot of ways. Use the bone and scraps to make a split pea soup. Chop up the ham finely to cook with favas or broad beans. Make some pasta with a sauce of cream, green peas and chopped ham. Make ham fried rice. Make an omelette or frittata. Crisp up some pieces in the oven like croutons and garnish anything. Make macaroni and cheese with ham. Give a dog a hambone.

Where to Get (Really Good) Hams around Brooklyn:
Flying Pigs Farm (Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket Saturday/Union Square Greenmarket Friday & Saturday)
Heritage Meat Shop (Essex St. Market)
Dickson Farmstand Meats (Chelsea Market)
Paisano’s Meat Market (Carroll Gardens)
The Meat Hook (Williamsburg)
Fleisher’s Meats (Park Slope)