Thursday, July 19, 2018
Cooking

Enjoy a ham that's sweet as honey

At Easter, there is just nothing better than a spiral-cut ham. Because I grew up with my grandmother roasting fresh, white, uncured hams, a sweet-glazed spiral-cut ham has always been a delicacy to me.

My best friend's mother bought one every Easter, and to me it was heavenly. I loved the crunchy sweet and spicy crust on the ends of the slices. She served the ham cold and kept the leftover ham loosely covered with foil in the refrigerator. It didn't last long as we — and the rest of the neighborhood kids — kept opening the fridge and pulling off a snack. Because it was spiral cut, you didn't need a knife to snag a piece. All you needed to do was reach in and grab a thick, meaty slice.

The first Easter I hosted the meal, I ordered a sweet-glazed spiral-cut ham. I felt so grown up and we ate that ham for days. I discovered the joy of a ham sandwich with thick-cut baked ham, crisp lettuce and lots of mayo on toasted white bread.

As time went on, I grew to appreciate the purity of my grandmother's fresh ham, but soon found that most people expect their holiday hams to be pink. So why not give the people what they want?

The best part is that it is so easy to customize the ham with your own glaze. My "hack" is to make a sweet and spicy dry rub that bakes into a burnished "glaze" (rather than brushing the meat with a wet sauce). It is so quick and easy that I urge you to throw away any packet of sauce that comes with your ham and try it my way.

A dry glaze is a dry spice rub with both sugar and granulated honey (or honey powder) to add sweetness and flavor. You also could use maple sugar granules. Luckily, these powders are easier and easier to find at the grocer or online. My favorite sweet and spicy rub is a combination of cinnamon, allspice, cloves, white pepper, dried honey, salt and sugar. But feel free to riff with your favorite flavors. Just don't omit the sugar; it melts and holds the other spices together, creating the glaze.

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