Turkey may be the star of the holiday table, but I would never dream of hosting a Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner without a ham as well. With both on the menu you satisfy everyone’s wants for a great holiday meal with both red meat and poultry, as long as you’ve got a good vegetarian dish somewhere in the mix, you’ve covered all the bases. Since these meals usually turn into a grazing frenzy later in the day, or at least they do when I host them, everyone gets to sample a little of everything before they’re done, and everyone leaves happy.
This year I picked up a spiral sliced ham by accident. I generally go for a full bone in shank, marinade it overnight in a combination of wine, onions, garlic and herbs and then cook it in an oven bag. It’s probably one of my most tried-and-true recipes to date. This year I didn’t have that option.
If you’ve ever cooked a spiral sliced ham, you’ll know that they don’t come out of the oven in a very attractive manner. (See images below.) The advantage they do have is the ability to soak up the glazes and sauces that they are cooked with, which enhances the flavor of the finished product immensely. Since pork and apple are the perfect combination, I chose to make a glaze from apples and Merlot. A choice that worked out incredibly well.
- 1 8-10 lb hickory smoked spiral sliced ham
- 1 750 ml bottle of good Merlot
- 1 red apple, peeled, seeded and cut into cubes
- 12 whole cloves
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar
- a splash of chicken stock or water (if necessary)
- Preheat oven to 350ºF.
- Place ham cut side down in roasting pan and place, uncovered in oven.
- Tie cloves into a bundle, either with a piece of cheesecloth, muslin or if you have one like I do, just put them in a tea bell. this will allow you to infuse their flavor to the glaze without the need to fish them all out later. (You may use ground cloves if you wish, but I have no clue what the amount would be.)
- Place apples, Merlot and cloves in a small sauce pot and bring to a simmer. Add brown sugar and stir until sugar is completely dissolved. Simmer for at least 30 minutes, or until apples begin to break down.
- Remove cloves. Mash apple mixture with a potato masher or immersion blender until completely broken down. return to a simmer and reduce by 1/3.
- Pour mixture over ham and return, covered, to oven. Cook for approximately 30 more minutes, or until glaze begins to caramelize.
- Remove from oven, let rest at least 20 minutes before serving.
- Scrape excess glaze from ham onto bottom of roasting pan. Add
- Remove slices from ham and place on a serving tray. Add a splash of chicken stock or water and mix with glaze to thin. Reheat over a burner if necessary.
- Drizzle glaze over ham and serve immediately.
What I would have done differently had I thought of it at the time:
Even though I’m not a huge fan of spiral sliced hams, I have to admit that this turned out beautifully, and that it is something that I would make in the future. The next time I may choose an apple cider over the Merlot, but even then, any good fruity wine would be enough to bake the glaze a wonderful counterpoint to the rich flavors of the ham itself.
I hope you’ll give this a go for your holiday table, it was definitely a hit at ours!