THANKSGIVING RECIPE: A Proper American Holiday Ham

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!

Brown Sugar Glazed Holiday Ham

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.

  1. Mix all the brine ingredients in a container big enough to hold the ham.
  2. Stir to dissolve the salt and sugar.
  3. Place the ham in the brine, making sure it’s fully submerged and weight it down so it stays that way!
  4. Soak for 6 to 8 days.
  5. Remove the ham, rinse under cool water, and pat dry.
  6. Place it on a rack set on a baking sheet and put it in the fridge, uncovered for 12 to 24 hours.
  7. 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.)
  8. While the ham is smoking, mix the brown sugar, Dijon, and garlic in a bowl until smooth.
  9. When the two hours is up, remove the ham from the smoker and brush with the glaze (keeping some back for later).
  10. Return it to the smoker and smoke until it reaches an internal temperature of 155 degrees F/68 degrees C (test with a thermometer).
  11. Remove the ham from the smoker and brush with the remaining glaze. Allow to cool, and refrigerate.
  12. 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!