Christmas from Sugar Cane Country
A grass with many names, sugarcane grows all over the world in warm to tropical regions. The fibrous stalk contains sugar and from its juice comes many products including rum from Puerto Rico, Brazilian cachaça, Louisiana molasses, table sugar and even ethanol to fuel cars. The plant was and still is a vibrant resource in the south. We use cane syrup in every recipe we can ~ it’s who we are and how we cook.
Take the traditional baked ham for instance, it would not be traditional in the south if it wasn’t laden with syrup and brown sugar, both made with sugar cane. By the way, you can make your own brown sugar by mixing one cup granulated white sugar with two tablespoons molasses, just in case you ever run out. Many folks have their own way of cooking a ham, many of you tell me yours is the best and I believe you. I like the way I cook mine just fine, I like the crusted sugary coating, the steamed-in flavor of sweetness with a hint of bourbon and I like my ham to ooze with delectable juices with every slice.
Here is my recipe for my Christmas Ham, one I worked on many years ago and after I tweaked it to my liking, I have not meddled with it since; don’t need to, it’s just the best ham I know how to cook. Enjoy!
…or any time a juicy ham is needed
1 –8 to 10 pound fully cooked ham (no water added if you can find it)
1 cup cane syrup (I use Alaga), divided
1 cup brown sugar, divided
1/4 cup dark molasses
1 tablespoon Creole mustard
dash of ground allspice, nutmeg & cinnamon
Cherries or pineapple if desired
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
In a saucepan, stir 1/2 cup cane syrup, 1/4 cup bourbon and 1/4 cup brown sugar over medium heat until sugar in dissolved. Remove from heat.
Place heavy aluminum foil horizontally and vertically in a roasting pan with enough foil to completely wrap the ham. Place ham in the center of the pan fat side up. Score the top cutting through the skin and fat but not the meat.Tightly wrap the sides of the ham making sure to bring the foil up as high as possible and mold the foil around the ham tightly leaving the top uncovered. Pour the heated mixture over the top and seal foil over the top. Place a meat thermometer into the meatest part of the ham and place in the oven. Cook ham until thermometer reads 140 degrees F. or about 18 minutes per pound.
Meanwhile, over medium high heat, add the remaining cane syrup, bourbon, brown sugar and the molasses stirring in the mustard and spices. Heat to a boil and cook for a couple of minutes, do not let mixture boil over. Turn the heat to low and let simmer until ham is ready to glaze stirring every so often.
When ham is at 140 degrees, peel back the foil, fold to the sides and drain off the liquid. Cut away the fat along the top. Score the meat cutting about 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch deep and spoon on half of the glaze. Return to oven and cook until glaze starts to crystallize. Spoon or brush on remaining glaze, add cherries or pineapples if desired and cook ham to the desired 148 degrees F. Remove from oven and wrap back up with the foil to let ham steam until cooled and ready to serve.