Christmas is only eight days away and unless you’re ultra-organised you might well still be wondering what to do for Christmas dinner as an alternative to turkey – especially if you’re an American and you gorged on turkey at Thanksgiving!
A lot of American families do just that and then enjoy a ham on Christmas Day. We’ve spent quite a bit of time looking for a traditional way to cook a ham, American-style and this recipe by chef Michael Ruhlman is the best we could find. It looks and sounds absolutely delicious!
Unlike the European-style honey baked ham, this one is soaked in brine for six to eight days – so if you’re going to give this a go, you’ll need to start in the next day or so!
Best get cracking! Here’s what you’ll need:
For the brine
- 1 gallon/4 litres of water
- 1 ½ cups/350 grams of kosher salt
- 2 packed cups/360 grams of dark brown sugar
- 1 ½ ounces/42 grams of pink salt (8 teaspoons)
- One 12- to 15-pound/5.5 to 6.75-kilogram fresh ham, skin and aitch-bone removed
For the glaze
- 1 ½ packed cups/270 grams of dark brown sugar
- ¾ cup/185 millilitres of Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon/20 grams of minced garlic
And here’s what you need to do to produce a delicious ham for Christmas Day! Remember, you can do this in advance so you don’t need to worry about your ham on the day itself.
- Mix all the brine ingredients in a container big enough to hold the ham.
- Stir to dissolve the salt and sugar.
- Place the ham in the brine, making sure it’s fully submerged and weight it down so it stays that way!
- Soak for 6 to 8 days.
- Remove the ham, rinse under cool water, and pat dry.
- Place it on a rack set on a baking sheet and put it in the fridge, uncovered for 12 to 24 hours.
- Hot-smoke the ham at 200 degrees F/93 C for 2 hours. (For tips on how to hot-smoke at home, check out Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s tips here.)
- While the ham is smoking, mix the brown sugar, Dijon, and garlic in a bowl until smooth.
- When the two hours is up, remove the ham from the smoker and brush with the glaze (keeping some back for later).
- Return it to the smoker and smoke until it reaches an internal temperature of 155 degrees F/68 degrees C (test with a thermometer).
- Remove the ham from the smoker and brush with the remaining glaze. Allow to cool, and refrigerate.
- To serve, slice and serve cold, or reheat it in a 275-degree-F/140-degree-C oven until warm in the centre (test with a metal skewer).
The result is a succulent, flavourful ham that will serve 16-18 people…or leave plenty of leftovers for Boxing Day and the run up to New Year!