Hye Thyme Cafe: Baked Ham with Apricot and Ginger Brandy Glaze

Welcome to the Hy
e Thyme Cafe. Although not all of my recipes are Armenian, the name is a little nod to my Armenian grandmother who is no longer with us. The Hye refers to all things related to her homeland, and she represents all things food-related to me, so the two just seemed to go together. I can't even claim that my Armenian recipes are truly Armenian, since Greece, Turkey, Armenia, Lebanon, Syria, and even Egypt share so many foods that they've all sort of morphed into one over thousands of years.

Whether you like to cook, bake, have never done either, or just like to play with your food...come on in and join me! :)

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Baked Ham with Apricot and Ginger Brandy Glaze

I have mentioned before that my all time favorite ham is far and away a John Morrell EZ Cut Bone-In. It has a great smoky flavor and is always juicy and delicious. The problem is the price - at least where I live now. When I was living in New Orleans, I never had a problem finding them and could often get them at a great price. Where I live in Central NY, not only do I have a hard time finding them, but the prices are out of this world. When I stopped at the butcher to pick up some ribs the other day, I came across a baby boneless version. It cost me $17 and change, which is more than I used to pay for the whole ham in NOLA, but that was a heck of a lot easier to justify than $60 for a half bone-in. I had to take that little cutie (just shy of 4 lb) home with me.

I usually do the traditional version of scoring the ham and poking it with cloves, topping with pineapple, maybe some brown sugar and/or Dijon  I didn't feel like doing that today, and don't have any pineapple in the house at the moment anyhow, so I looked around to see what else I could use. I recently participated in a cocktail challenge with Marx Foods and had some Ginger Brandy left, so I decided to use that in conjunction with Apricot Preserves which, although I have yet to make any myself, can almost always be found in my fridge.

Ham - mine was a fully cooked 3.8 lb boneless
1/4 c apricot preserves
1/4 c Ginger brandy *
1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 t ground clove

Since the ham is already fully cooked, the directions called for baking it at 350° for 15" per pound. For this little guy, that translated to about an hour.

Score the ham all around, about 1/4" deep, then bake, cut-side down and covered with foil, until you are 30-45" out from it being done.

For the glaze, combine the ingredients in a small sauce pot and bring up to a boil, letting it bubble for about 3", then brush all over the ham and return it to the oven uncovered. Baste every 15" until done.

To use the remaining glaze as a sauce, I mixed a little cornstarch in a prep bowl with enough water to create a slurry, then added it back to the pot, bringing it up to a boil to re-heat and thicken. As I was doing that, I was wondering whether using less of the brandy would have made this step unnecessary or whether that would have left me without the ginger taste I was hoping for. Now having tried it, I can safely suggest cutting back some on the brandy so you'll have a thicker sauce/glaze.* You could also add a little ground ginger along with the cinnamon and clove.

I found that the glaze went along nicely with the ham, but I do have to admit that, if you happen across one of these little Morrell hams, do not feel compelled to buy this one over whatever ham you usually purchase. Although it's still a good ham, it doesn't come close to it's smoky cousin. With the full smoked version, I'm usually left groaning because it's so good, I can't stop picking at it.

As for this little guy, I plan to slice a few slabs to go in the freezer for future use, maybe make a sandwich or two and some breakfast egg cups, then dice the rest to go in Lentil Soup. That's another reason I love the big one - that smoky flavor is an awesome addition to the soup.

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