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The Hambone’s Connected to the Easter Menu

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To many, Easter dinner is the perfect time for ham. But where did this tradition begin? If you check the Internet, you’ll find a host of possibilities, ranging from Christians co-opting pagan rituals to American soil being more suited to pigs than lambs. (Comparing the price of the two meats is a strong argument for the latter.)

Use fresh ham, not cured or smoked, in this recipe.A more common sense explanation can be found on the Christian blog, Liturgical Time: “Throughout most of the centuries of Christianity, (and still for Eastern Orthodox Christians, whose stick-to-itiveness is to be highly commended), no meat was eaten during Lent.  Since livestock was slaughtered in the Fall, and there was no refrigeration, any meat left over on Ash Wednesday, (at the beginning of Lent), had to be cured if it was to be preserved.  Hence, on Easter Day, when the long 55 days of Lent were finally over and meat could be eaten, a lovely cured ham was the natural choice.”

Does it really matter why people eat ham on Easter or the rest of the year? It’s delicious. It’s not too expensive. And it’s plentiful.

Texans love their ham, but the writers of a great many Texas cookbooks are more interested in offering recipes for what to do with leftovers. Perhaps they were all trying to prove the great Dorothy Parker wrong when she quipped, “Eternity is a ham and two people.”

But here are a few suggestions from Texas cookbooks to make your holiday dinner centerpiece even more enjoyable this year.

First are some glaze ideas from the “Houston Junior League Cookbook”:

Ham Glazes:

  • Mix equal parts of jelly and prepared mustard.
  • Combine 2 cups cranberry sauce and ½ cup brown sugar.
  • Mix ½ cup honey with 1 cup brown sugar and ½ cup orange juice.
  • Mix 1 cup honey with ½ cup orange marmalade.
  • Combine 1 cup brown sugar and ½ cup syrup from canned spiced crab apples. Garnish with heated crab apples.

And here’s a basting sauce you can use for more than ham, as it appears in “The Wide, Wide World of Texas Cooking”:

Basting Sauce for Meat Loaf, Ham, Pork

½ cup brown sugar
½ cup water
1 teaspoon dry mustard

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Vinegar, to taste

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and boil until sugar has melted. Keep warm until needed. Store leftover sauce, covered, in refrigerator.

Makes 1 ¼ cups.

From “The Wide, Wide World of Texas Cooking” by Morton G. Clark

Finally, here’s a recipe for a stuffed ham that appears in the “Celebrate San Antonio Cookbook”:

Bourbon Cashew Studded Ham

Ham:

1 (5- to 6-pound) cooked ham
1 cup bourbon
1 cup packed brown sugar
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
15 to 20 whole cashews

Stuffing

1 ½ cups herb stuffing mix (Pepperidge Farm preferred)
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, melted
3 tablespoons prepared mustard
3 eggs
¾ cup parsley, minced

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a saucepan, combine bourbon, sugar and cloves. Simmer mixture for 5 minutes. In a medium bowl, mix stuffing ingredients together. Make holes in top of ham with apple corer at 2-inch intervals. Save ham pieces for another use. Stuff holes in ham with one cashew then stuffing mix and one cashew on top. Spread rest of stuffing on top of ham. In a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish, place ham and pour bourbon sauce on top. Bake uncovered for 1 ½ hours until crust is golden brown. Baste with bourbon sauce while ham is cooking.

Makes 20 to 25 servings.

From “Celebrate San Antonio Cookbook” by the San Antonio Junior Forum

 

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