Hammin’ it up for Easter
March 29, 2012
Easter is right around the corner and do you know what you are serving? Ham is a traditional Easter food that dates back centuries. Before refrigeration fresh pork was butchered in the fall and whatever meat could not be eaten before Lent was then cured. This curing process lasted several weeks making it ready just in time for Easter.
Today, there are many different varieties of ham which differ depending on the cut of meat and the curing process. Hams are sold as whole ham, butt end, shank end, and as center cut ham steaks. Hams are available fresh, cured or smoked. This curing process is used to preserve the meat, add color and intensify the flavor.
Ham can be prepared in a variety of ways. Most hams purchased at the grocery store are already fully or partially cooked and tend to cook well at lower temperatures for a long period of time. It is recommended these hams be cooked at 300 degrees for approximately 18 minutes per pound for a whole bone-in ham. A ham is thoroughly cooked when an internal temperature of 160 degrees is reached. To help prevent the ham from drying out during the long cooking process, add a liquid to the roasting pan, such as pineapple juice, apple juice, or cola and tightly wrap the ham with foil to help reduce evaporation as the meat slowly cooks. If glazing your ham, add the glaze during the last thirty minutes of cooking. Another great cooking method for a ham is cooking it in the slow cooker on low for approximately five to six hours. Ham steaks tend to do well pan fried or grilled.
After cooking, ham can be enjoyed all on its own, chopped and added to casseroles, soups or salads. Cooked ham will keep for approximately seven days in the refrigerator and then should be wrapped tightly in aluminum foil and then stored in the freezer for up to two months.
Sweet flavor profiles generally pair well with ham. Good options include brown sugar, molasses, maple syrup, honey, apple jelly, mango chutney, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. This recipe for a grilled ham steak with a sweet cherry glaze will make ham the star of your Easter dinner.
Ham Steak with Classic Cherry Glaze
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Prep Time: 5 minutes, cook time: 8 minutes, serves 4
1 (2 pound) bone-in thick cut ham steak
1 (12 ounce size) jar cherry preserves
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat charcoal or gas grill. In a small saucepan, combine all ingredients except ham. Simmer for five minutes.
Place ham steaks on grill over medium heat. Grill 3 minutes. Turn ham steak; brush with half of cherry mixture and continue to grill 3 minutes. Turn again; brush with remaining half of cherry mixture and continue to grill 1 to 2 minutes or until ham is glazed and heated through.
Serve with any remaining cherry sauce.
– Chef Heather Hunsaker attended and graduated from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, but has been developing family friendly meals since she was nine years old in her mother’s kitchen. She currently serves as a writer and recipe developer for meal planning site http://www.foodonthetable.com.