Wednesday, January 29, 2014

CITY HAM - Pistachio Crusted Baked Ham - 52 Church PotLuck Main Course

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Here's one of those memories from my youth.  50 some odd years ago I can recall many a Sunday sitting in my family pew at the Liberty Baptist Church in Pekin Illinois.  That church at that time never let an occasion pass by without a Church Potluck dinner.  Usually Sunday after services, sometimes everyone brought something (I can sill recall those lines of Crock Pots... Or the hunt for a spare plug somewhere during Sunday School... But I digress).

But today I am recalling those days when the Church Basement Ladies would slow roast a couple of hams for lunch.  Everyone brought side dishes and an amazing table of desserts (my favorites), but the main course was cooked during service.  The smells carrying through the building, making those pews and that days' sermon especially loooong and hard to sit through.

For whatever reason, ham seems to have gotten the short sheet disrespect since those glorious days of my youth.  I just don't bake them enough.  No good reason since I always look forward to the meal when a ham is in the oven.  This last Christmas I hosted dinner for 10 people.  Most of the same people who came over for Thanksgiving so I wanted to try something new besides a turkey.

Ham came to mind and it brought all those memories back... and it was... Glorious!

First up, let's talk about city hams vs country hams... Here's a "REAL SIMPLE" Magazine comparison...

Ham (a.k.a. city ham): The most popular variety of this versatile meat. The majority of supermarket hams are wet-cured, or injected with a brine made of salt, sugar, seasonings, and curing agents, lending the meat a mild, juicy flavor. (Many producers also smoke their hams for additional depth.) Bone-in city hams tend to be moister and more flavorful than the boneless variety. Both types usually come ready to eat, although they benefit from oven warming. Note: City ham should not be confused with fresh ham, which is a raw hind leg of pork sold at butcher shops and specialty meat markets.

Country ham: A southern favorite, these hams are dry-cured, meaning they’re rubbed with salt and seasonings, smoked, then aged anywhere from 4 months to 3 years. Salty and chewy, the intensely flavored meat is usually served with biscuits or incorporated into casseroles and salads. It’s sold both uncooked and cooked, and mostly bone-in.

Here's my version... City Hams are cheaper, easier to cook and are best simply cooked, sliced and served.  A Country Ham is best when used for other things... Like a casserole.  The heavy salting process makes a country ham less appealing as a slice and serve dish.

This recipe is very easy... only 4 ingredients (including a shot of Kentucky Bourbon which I doubt those Southern Baptist church basement ladies used in their recipe... But you never know since most of the congregation (including all the kids, all the men and especially the pastor) was a little afraid of them and rarely ventured into the church kitchen... but I digress.

REALLY EASY, Really Delicious and nostalgically perfect for a big holiday meal (or just a Sunday Supper).

I just LOVE this nutty crusty coating on the ham.  Distinctive look and delicious taste.  As you carve, pieces will chip off.  In the instructions it is advised to use a paper towel and pat dry the ham before applying the mustard paste.  DO NOT SKIP THIS PART as the mustard paste will NOT stick to the ham if it is sealed wet.

Easy and Best Ham Ever... just have to build more memories around this one.

 OK... Here's what I did...

Pistachio Crusted Ham

  • 1 City STyle Brined Ham
  • 1/2 Cup Brown Mustard, Country style with seeds
  • 2 Cups Dark Brown Sugar
  • 1 Shot Kentucky Bourbon
  • 2 Cups Crushed Pistachio nut chips
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees
  2. Rinse ham, hand rub the outer coating off the ham. Using a SHARP small paring knife, score the ham from bottom to top, spiraling clockwise as you cut. (If you're using a paring knife, be careful to only cut through the skin and first few layers of fat). Rotate the ham after each cut so that the scores are no more than 2-inches across. Once you've made it all the way around, move the knife to the other hand and repeat, spiraling counter clockwise. The aim is to create a diamond pattern all over the ham. (Don't worry too much about precision here.)
  3. Tent the ham with heavy duty foil, insert a remote probe thermometer, and cook for 3 to 4 hours or until the internal temperature at the deepest part of the meat registers 130 degrees.
  4. Remove and use tongs to pull away the diamonds of skin and any sheets of fat that come off with them. This leaves a clean surface to add the crusty mustard.
  5. Raise the temperature to 350 degrees.
  6. In a mixing bowl, mix the Mustard, Brown Sugar, Bourbon and nuts to form a paste.
  7. Pat the ham dry and add an even layer of the mustard paste all around the ham.
  8. Clean the thermometer probe and reinsert. Bake uncovered until internal temperature reaches 140 degrees (about another hour).
  9. Allow to rest for a half an hour before carving
  10. Serve warm and ENJOY!

The Ham fit right in  for the BIG DAY Meal!


This recipe has been added to my growing list of "52 Church PotLuck Dishes"!

A list of something NEW worthy of being shown off at a neighborhood BYODish (Bring Your Own Dish) Party, a Family special occasion dinner, Any Big Holiday Gathering or of course that glorious day when you bring a dish to share with your Church family...

Ages ago, literally almost a half century ago I was listening to our pastor talking about a PotLuck Dinner. It happened to be scheduled around a church work day when we were expected to weed, polish and do general cleaning and maintenance around the church (you know, back in the day when there were no no-wax floors and church pews smelled of Old English furniture polish). I am of course paraphrasing, but as I recall the pastor said,

"A potluck, like a church requires work. At a potluck everyone is expected to contribute.. At a church no one should come empty handed and no one should leave unfed".
I will confess that in my youth I brought more store bought plastic spoons and forks than I ever brought covered dishes and crock pots of fresh made love and caring delights. But now that I have become a hobbyist cook, I occasionally am reminded of those days and people from my youth. I reminded and I do wish that I could drop a dish of some new creation on those old tables at my fondly remembered Liberty Baptist Church.  Tables covered with newspapers and loaded with God's bounty prepared with love and caring... Enjoy


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