Monday, April 5, 2010

Christ is Risen and that means Ham!

and deviled eggs and noodle kugel and pasta salad and cheesecake and citrus chocolate ricotta torte...apparently Jesus was resurrected and then everybody gorged themselves.  It was a lovely Easter day.

My friends and I have commented lately that no holiday is worth the moniker "holiday" unless there is some elaborate and extensive feast prominently featured therein.  Obviously you can name a few without even having to think about it...Christmas, Thanksgiving, Passover, Kwanzaa...even the hallmark holidays center around food in some way.  Halloween makes children everywhere squeal with delight at the thought of buckets of free candy (but NEVER EVER the unmarked, unbranded taffy of death that was sure to be poison cleverly disguised as a holiday treat by your sinister next door neighbor).  Valentine's Day brings the promise of hastily bought chocolates by an unwitting gentleman who really just wants the day to be over so he can lie on the couch dreading the next important romantic date that he is sure to forget even though we marked it on your calendar WITH A BIG RED CIRCLE!

But what about arbor day? Where we celebrate earth's precious bounty of trees deciduous and evergreen alike? Or veterans day? Shouldn't we celebrate our vets with a big artery busting meal? I think so.

I implore my readers, of which I have two, to dedicate themselves to adding one food based holiday to their personal calendar in 2010.  Because why not?
I know I had a glorious time eating delicious food prepared with love on today (yesterday) this most sacred of days.  Why not give Martin Luther King Jr a nice tribute too? I mean clearly Christ is the only one who gets ham, because let's face it, he's Christ...but Martin Luther King Jr at least deserves a nicely aged T-Bone.

Some new food holiday ideas...

Arbor day (April 27th): Christmas Tree cakes and Tang (because if you can eat them in April you should)
Groundhog Day (February 2nd): Eat a groundhog! no just kidding...but consume enough calories to take you through the inevitable next six weeks of winter we'll be getting.
Flag Day (June 14th): Eat anything and everything that is red, white and blue...this includes, but is not limited too...cupcakes, brownies, hotdogs, schnitzel, gyros, and anything you can grossly dye with artificial food coloring.

See! The sky's the limit! So go forth and forge a new tradition's National Raisin and Spice Bar Day! So figure out exactly what a raisin and spice bar is and celebrate accordingly by eating some ham...

This is the recipe that my dear friend Jayson used for the ham on this afternoon of resurrection...

Alton Brown's City Ham Recipe Courtesy of
Or as I would prefer to call if it I had the rights to it, which I do not...

And He Will Raise You Up On Eagle's Wings
Bear You On The Breath of Dawn
Make You To Shine Like The Sun
And Hold You In The Palm...Of His Ham Ham

  • 1 city style (brined) ham, hock end*
  • 1/4 cup brown mustard
  • 2 cups dark brown sugar
  • 1-ounce bourbon (poured into a spritz bottle)
  • 2 cups crushed ginger snap cookies
Heat oven to 250 degrees F.
Remove ham from bag, rinse and drain thoroughly. Place ham, cut side down, in a roasting pan. Using a small paring knife or clean utility knife set to the smallest blade setting, score the ham from bottom to top, spiraling clockwise as you cut. (If you're using a paring knife, be careful to only cut through the skin and first few layers of fat). Rotate the ham after each cut so that the scores are no more than 2-inches across. Once you've made it all the way around, move the knife to the other hand and repeat, spiraling counter clockwise. The aim is to create a diamond pattern all over the ham. (Don't worry too much about precision here.)

Tent the ham with heavy duty foil, insert a thermometer, and cook for 3 to 4 hours or until the internal temperature at the deepest part of the meat registers 130 degrees F.

Remove and use tongs to pull away the diamonds of skin and any sheets of fat that come off with them.
Heat oven to 350 degrees F.

Dab dry with paper towels, then brush on a liberal coat of mustard, using either a basting brush or a clean paint brush (clean as in never-touched paint). Sprinkle on brown sugar, packing loosely as you go until the ham is coated. Spritz this layer lightly with bourbon, then loosely pack on as much of the crushed cookies as you can.

Insert the thermometer (don't use the old hole) and return to the oven (uncovered). Cook until interior temperature reaches 140 degrees F, approximately 1 hour.
Let the roast rest for 1/2 hour before carving.

*Cook's note: A city ham is basically any brined ham that's packed in a plastic bag, held in a refrigerated case and marked "ready to cook", "partially cooked" or "ready to serve". Better city hams are also labeled "ham in natural juices".

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