Ham: Smoky, Salty, Simple

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Last weekend, while taking inventory of my deep freezer, I found treasure: half a bone-in ham. We traditionally have ham for our Christmas dinner. When I purchase it for this holiday meal, it is always cheaper to buy the whole ham than just a half. Since the guys at the meat counter will cut it for me, and I have plenty of freezer space, it’s a no-brainer.

The one thing I have to do though is remember to use the frozen half within a reasonable amount of time. I licked my lips and decided that “a reasonable amount of time” had arrived.

Since only three of us were going to devour this 8-10 pound ham (wouldn’t that have been a funny picture?), I knew I wouldn’t need a lot of sides like I normally would make for a big family dinner. Instead of mashed potatoes and gravy, I made cheesy potato casserole. Grilled asparagus helped us to feel a bit better about over-indulging on potato casserole.

The wonderful thing about making a ham is that there is no recipe. Of course there are many recipes for glazes and techniques but I’m going to give you a fool-proof tip.

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Follow the directions in the package for the type of ham you have (this was a fully-cooked, bone-in ham). Open a bag. Add one tablespoon of flour. Shake flour all around inside of bag to coat. Put (defrosted) ham in bag. Close bag with included zip-tie. Set bag and ham in 9″x13″ pan. Cut 6 half-inch slits in the bag and bake at 350º for an hour and a half to two hours (for an 8-10 pound ham). Remove from oven. Allow to sit 15-20 minutes before opening bag and removing ham to cut.

That’s it. No need for any seasonings. No need for pineapple (although it does make a perfect side). Of course you can, but why take anything away from that smoky, salty goodness?

FullSizeRender (7)What was left in the bag is pure flavor! The drippings are typically used to make the gravy. Since I wasn’t making gravy this time, I poured the drippings into a mason jar. When we had stuffed ourselves … I mean, enjoyed very reasonable portions … my husband carved the rest of the ham, leaving a good portion of meat on/around the bone. The slices, drizzled with a couple tablespoons of the drippings to keep them moist, we reserved for sandwiches.  The ham bone, some of the not-so-pretty cuts and the rest of the drippings went to the refrigerator to make amazing ham and bean soup.

The soup is amazing because of one key and unexpected ingredient. An ingredient and a good story which I will share with you very soon …

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Anita Hinkeldey McVey

From the farm in Alta ... to college in Ames ... to the suburbs of Des Moines in Waukee ... I am an Iowa girl through and through. I married the cute, but quiet, guy who made me laugh out loud in Statistics class and we have two awesome, but terribly sarcastic, boys. In 1999, I quit my research job to be home with those active boys. Staying home allowed me to spend more time preparing meals, trying new recipes and striving to serve healthier options for my family. Now that my boys are men ... well, "adults" anyway ... and my husband still appreciates what I accomplish at home, I have time to explore my creative side and knock "writing a blog" off my bucket list. I love trying new things, traveling, gardening, reading and clean countertops. I love baseball (watching, not playing) and concession stands. Choosing a favorite food is impossible but if I was forced to pick just one, it would be pie! I thank God that He has led me to this place. Here's to a new adventure and hopes that others will be able to use what I post to discover the benefits of family meals and living a picnic life.

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