- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Ham for Easter is a tradition. That doesn’t mean it has to be ho-hum. Here’s a baked ham dish with a certain distinction, that is, different without being disconcerting — and in no way difficult to make.

Red wine and cracked black peppercorns are the power basis of a simple but effective combination of ingredients that gives this ham both a burnished glaze and rich flavor.

The recipe tester made a version of the ham using pinot noir as an alternative to the first choice, cabernet sauvignon, and reports that both wines gave good results, with the pinot noir a little fruitier. Which to use is up to personal preference. The wine’s flavor is what counts — all the alcohol evaporates in the cooking.

Cracked black pepper, which is specified, is the very coarsest grind.

The starter recipe calls for a 6- to 8-pound ham and makes 12 to 16 servings. If that’s not enough for your hearty party, there are simple instructions for expanding the dish to serve 20 to 25 guests.

The recipe is from the National Pork Board.

Baked ham with cabernet-peppercorn glaze

6- to 8-pound smoked, bone-in ham (shank portion)

2½ cups cabernet sauvignon or pinot noir

2 tablespoons finely chopped cipollini onions or shallots

½ teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme

1 teaspoon cracked black pepper

5 tablespoons honey

1 cup canned reduced-sodium chicken broth

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 tablespoon butter

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine wine, onion and thyme in medium saucepan. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Set aside 1 cup wine mixture for serving sauce.

Place ham in shallow baking pan; score by making diagonal cuts, about 1/8-inch thick, in a diamond pattern in surface of ham. Sprinkle with pepper and rub into surface cuts with fingers. Brush ham with 3 tablespoons honey.

Pour 1/4 cup of remaining wine mixture over ham. Bake ham in center of 350 F oven for 1½ to 2½ hours or until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest portion (not touching bone) registers 140 degrees (about 15 to 18 minutes per pound), basting every 30 minutes with 1/4 cup more of remaining wine mixture.

Remove ham from oven. Transfer ham to cutting board. Loosely cover with foil. Let rest for 10 to 15 minutes before slicing. Discard wine mixture in pan.

Meanwhile, combine ½ cup reserved wine mixture and chicken broth in medium saucepan. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, until mixture is reduced to 1 cup.

Stir cornstarch into remaining ½ cup reserved wine mixture, then stir mixture into hot wine-broth mixture. Add 2 tablespoons honey and butter. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Makes 12 to 16 servings.

Nutrition information per serving: 444 cal., 28 g total fat (10 g saturated), 125 mg chol., 133 mg sodium, 9 g carbo., 34 g pro., 0 g fiber.

Note: To serve 20 to 25 guests, use a 14- to 16-pound, ready-to-eat, whole, bone-in ham. Double the remaining ingredients in recipe, and ingredient proportions in recipe method.

Bake ham in center of heated oven for 3½ to 43/4 hours, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest portion (not touching bone) registers 140 F (about 15 to 18 minutes per pound), basting every 30 minutes with ½ cup more of remaining wine mixture.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

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