Saturday, March 28, 2009
My kindergartner came home yesterday with her April calendar all made up with a paper umbrella and pipe cleaner handle. I noticed the upcoming birthdays of the class (very few, thank goodness...I thought I might have to become a barista or something to finance the gifts). Then checked for holidays.
April 12...a picture of a half-broken egg...no label. Wait...we can't type the word "Easter" for fear of offending someone who may not wish to sully their eyes with the word...like it releases mustard gas upon being sighted? Okay, they must not know about the missionary history of St. Patrick's Day because that one was printed. I guess a holiday known for it's poor food and lots of beer is actually what we want our kids to know about. But, anyways.....
Easter is coming in two weeks. Do you know what you're making? Lamb roast is traditional because it mimics the lamb eaten by Jewish people celebrating the Passover. And you know why the holidays are always connected, right? Because Jesus was crucified during Passover and then rose again the third day--which is the reason we celebrate Easter...new life and all. Spring chicks are a nice symbol of new life...easier to merchandise and commercialize than an eerily empty tomb I suppose.
But, as I've mentioned before, my family was decidedly anti-lamb when it came to Easter dinner. We were more in the "ham" or "roast beef" camp. I always voted for ham, the sweet porky roast being my birthday dinner choice for years and years as a child until I discovered teriyaki steak at Black Angus (there were limited restaurant choices near Littlerock, WA).
I even loved the church potluck ham, served very thin and topped with apple sauce. It seemed there were usually the scalloped potatoes and butter-flake rolls to accompany this meal. And I seem to remember that broccoli-raisin-red onion salad slathered in a mayo sauce (or Miracle Whip in the case of my mom's recipe---on a side note, I have not had any luck converting my husband to the stuff...something about it having "whipped miracles" as an ingredient).
Ham and roasted pig (lechon) is a Filipino favorite. Thankfully Heaven ordained at least one uniting force of common ground in my mixed-racial marriage...although I'm inclined to think marital differences occur in the most racially-uniform marriages!
My mother-in-law boiled their Christmas ham in pineapple juice and bay leaves before roasting it in the oven. They ate it at midnight every Christmas Eve because that was when my father-in-law got off his swing shift casino schedule.
I've dabbled in celebrity chef/food network type recipes, but usually end up changing them or never making them again on account of expensive and rare ingredients that seem to permeate those dishes. Four years ago, I made a ham breakthrough...even converting my ham-standard mother-in-law. And two Christmases ago, I served our favorite ham dinner with some friends (including a Southern-type who won't even eat turkey for Thanksgiving on account of his preference of ham...he was probably on a government watch list for this anti-American activity until recently).
I tell you, if you can't get on board with the lamb roast, nothing beats the sheer cost-effective goodness of ham. Don't get one of those spiral cut kind because they're already loaded with extra ingredients. But, I'm telling you, you can feed a boat-load of people with one ham AND have the bone plus some meaty goodness left for a great Ham and Bean Soup (maybe I'll do this recipe next post).
This recipe is the one...am I right Kristi?
The Ham You Should Make
1 ham (in a bag, unsliced, in "natural" juices with the bone)
1/4 c brown mustard
2 c dark brown sugar (I usually end up using less, though)
1 oz (1/8 c) bourbon (Jack Daniels is one brand...)
2 c crushed ginger snap cookies
Heat the oven to 250 degrees.
Remove ham from the bag; rinse and drain thoroughly. Place ham, cut side down, in a roasting pan. Using a small paring knife or a utility knife with a new blade set to the smallest setting, score the ham from bottom to top, spiraling clockwise as you cut. Only cut through the skin and fat layers. Rotate the ham after each cut so the scores are no more than 2 inches across. Then repeat, spiraling counter-clockwise. (Diamond pattern is what you're going for.)
Tent the ham with heavy duty foil, insert a thermometer, and cook 3-4 hours until the internal temp in the deepest part is 130 degrees.
Remove the ham from the oven, remove the foil from the ham, and use tongs to pull away diamonds of skin and any sheets of fat that come off with it.
Raise the oven temp to 350 degrees.
Dab the ham dry with paper towels, brush with a liberal coat of mustard. Sprinkle on the brown sugar and pack it onto the ham until it is coated. Spritz or sprinkle with the bourbon, then loosely pack on as many crushed ginger snap cookies as possible.
Insert the thermometer in a new hole. Return to the oven, uncovered, for about 1 hours until the temp is 140 degrees.
Let the ham rest on the counter lightly covered with the foil for 30 minutes before carving.
I've got to give credit to Uncle Alton Brown for this recipe. It's so good that I haven't altered it a bit and therefore can't take any credit myself...except for the fact that I make it and serve it to very happy friends and family! Thanks A.B.!