Christmas ham for two
- efdee Dec 2, 2010 06:42 AM
I want to make Christmas ham dinner for two people, but have never made ham before, so would you please start from scratch? And suggest easy sides, please? Thanks, and happy holidays.
You may struggle to find a ham small enough for two, so may want to look into a ham steak or two. I have done them with a whiskey and mustard glaze that took it beyond the usual marmalade type serving. I tend to like it with sweeter side dishes, but it depends on what preparation you use. I'd do some recipe searching and see in which direction you want to go.
Ham steak is exactly the way I would roll, unless I wanted leftovers for weeks on end. A nice fully cooked ham steak slice from the butt is better and a bit more $ than from the shank, but definitely big enough for two. Just glaze, heat and eat, no simmering, dressing, baking required. I like a simple coarse grain mustard/orange marmalade glaze with a little Madiera.
If the OP does want leftovers, get a smaller fully cooked shank portion.
With ham I like scalloped potatoes, whipped sweet potatoes, green beans and bacon, braised collards, potato salad, even in the winter, mac 'n cheese, biscuits, corn pudding, pickled bean salads, all that good classic Southern food. For a special menu, start with a seafood chowder, roast some mixed winter vegetables and fry up some parsnip/potato pancakes.
If they are very fond of ham, two people can consume the entire half a ham. First you bake it and have it in the refrigerator for up to a week to slice from for sandwiches etc. Then you cut all the meat off the bone and package it in portions of a size suitable for one-meal use whether for ham and eggs, ham cooked with fresh green beans, ham cooked with dried lima or navy beans, ham and scalloped potatoes, corn pudding with ham, ham and macaroni and cheese, fried rice with ham, red beans & rice with chunks of ham, ham biscuits, ham and grilled cheese sandwiches, sliced ham and sweet potatoes etc---you freeze all the little packages of ham and use them for up to a year. And definitely grind up some of the ham (I use the Cuisinart) coarsely, bind it with mayonnaise and Dijon mustard,and add some ground-up sweet pickles, to make ham salad or a spread to eat on crackers. Also freeze the meaty bone until you are ready to use it in soup: split pea or Cuban black bean being two nice possibilities. Every scrap of the ham is used so, when all is in and done, a ham (or half a ham) is an economical purchase.
How you prepare it in the first place depends on whether it is cooked or only smoked. The easiest thing is to buy a spiral-cut ham which is already cooked and just follow directions on the label for warming it and glazing it---there will probably be a packet of glaze mix that will make the ham pretty.
Whatever you do, as a beginner, don't buy a "country" ham as they are processed in salt and have to be soaked for days and cooked for hours---not a good first ham, however tasty.
I'd start looking now. Even the smallest real ham you'd find in the store is going to be very large for two. I live alone and have successfully 86'ed a whole ham myself, but it took a good bit of planning and a lot of diligence in using up leftovers. That's not meant as a discouragement; on the contrary, if you like ham, there are dozens of delicious uses for every scrap! :)
Choosing a ham: I prefer the butt end rather than the shank end, and I think bone-in is the ONLY way to fly -- for flavor and for the fact that you end up with a ham bone to use in soup! Check the labels to see what's added (water, "ham juice," nitrates, etc.).
On cooking it, I prefer to keep it reasonably simple -- brown sugar and mustard are traditional glaze components for a reason! I've done a gingersnap crust on a ham (Alton's -- his whole method is, as usual, very reliable), and a bourbon-brown sugar-mustard glaze, and the plain old pineapple juice-brown sugar thing. Depends on what you like. Score the fat, put the glaze on, and stick the thing in the oven for a few hours. Easy-peasy. The main advantage of a thicker glaze, IMO, is that there's no "basting" required, a la Marge Simpson and her glowing, lacquered ham!
Sides: I think scalloped potatoes and some kind of fresh green veg (green beans, either with lemon and almonds or with garlic and tomatoes). Last year our post-ham repast was sticky toffee pudding and *very* Irish coffee! :)
I won't go into a lot of details here because everyone on this board knows we are Jewish, but....one year DH received a very expensive Smithfield ham, which I proceeded to make. Long story short, ham does freeze very successfully, we had leftovers for sandwiches and spreads and there were 4 of us. I used our FoodSaver and they lasted several months. Just sharing...