Without fail, everything in Hawaii is going to cost exorbitantly more than it would anywhere else on the mainland. Milk is rarely less than $5 dollars, bread $7 a loaf, and when I buy butter I cry a little tear. Every time. Food budgeting is a necessity, and that usually means monstrous cuts of meat don’t make on the grocery list. But come time for the holidays we do get thrown a bone from the government. With a few store “rewards points,” we were able to take home a 12+ lb bone-in ham roast for free. I don’t make a habit out of eating a lot of pork, but free food that’ll provide at least 7 different meals for my family? I’m not a fool, I couldn’t turn it down.
Now if I want this sucker to be versatile and provide a colorful array of meals for the next couple weeks, I needed to think this one through. What to cook it in? That was the question. I like maple glazed ham, yep that’s good. Dijon ham, now there’s a spicy angle I’d like. But what about apricot glazed ham? Mm hm, can’t go wrong there. I’m the worst when thrown into the dilemma of choosing between lots of great options. Ask anyone I’ve been to a restaurant with; without fail I order last, always several minutes after the rest of the party and the waiter has returned too many times. At that point I feel the pressure bearing down and I just blurt out one of the choices in a panic and throw the menu at the confused server. It’s sad.
However, my kitchen means my rules, and I had a thought: what would happen if maple, dijon, and apricots all got together and had a love child? Curiosity was seeded and so I went for it. The results were just as I’d hoped, a beautiful blend of the sweets balanced by the spice and pepper of the mustard. After being reassured by my family, Andrea, and at least 8 different neighbors (we live like sardines in campus married housing, willing taste-testers are not hard to come by) it was agreed this was an experimental success.
Here’s how it went down:
- pre-cooked ham roast
- ¾ cup white wine vinegar
- 1 cup maple syrup
- ¾ cup Country Style Dijon Mustard
- 3-4 tablespoons apricot preserves/jam
- salt and pepper to taste
- lots and lots of garlic, around 15 cloves
- Start by getting the ham roast nice and warm. Low and slow is the trick. Set oven to 325 and prepare pan. Slice a diamond pattern in the fat of the meat; slice several lines at one angle, then turn the blade and repeat making the criss-cross diamond effect. If using pre-diced garlic from a jar, rub about 10 cloves worth all over the top fat part of the ham. If using whole cloves, place them in the corners of the diamond pattern you made into the fat, spacing out evenly. I added ⅓ cup of water to the pan to make sure it stayed moist while warming up. Fat side up, cover with tinfoil and let the ham cook for an hour.
- While waiting, prepare the glaze. In a small sauce pan set on high heat, reduce the white wine vinegar down until only a few tablespoons remain.
- Change the heat to med-low and add the maple, mustard, apricot preserves, and a pinch of salt. Stir until well blended. Let cook 2-3 more minutes.
- After the ham has cooked for the first hour, reduce the oven to 300 and start basting with the glaze. Start with slathering ⅓ of the glaze generously all over the ham.
- Every so often over the course of the next 30 minutes pour more of the mixture on top until you’ve used it all. Avoid the temptation to use the liquid on the bottom of the pan to baste this time, because it could end up washing off the glaze rather than helping.
- When finished, removed the ham and let it rest while covered for 15 minutes before carving it.
- C’est fini, bon appétit!