Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Ham

I was talking to my mom today and realized that there is an evolution of sorts that takes place in families over time. For example, my sisters and I all wash our dishes as soon as dinner is finished. My husband and brothers-in-law don't understand why the dishes can't wait five or ten minutes. We don't know why. It's just the way our mother has always done things. It's just what seems right to us.

Another good example is our family's Christmas ham. My mother was always taught to cut the top off her ham. One day, my mother asked her mother (my grandmother) why she needed to cut the top off the Christmas ham. My grandmother said, "I'm not sure. It's the way my mother always did it." So my grandmother called her mother and asked. Grandma Heath said, "I'm not sure. It's the way my mother always did it." Grandma Heath asked Grandma Staley (my great-great grandmother). Grandma Staley said, "Because my pan was too small." My family has been cutting the top off the ham for five generations because Grandma Staley's pan was too small. That is the evolution of a recipe in my family.


1 bone-in-ham* (about 12 lbs, but sometimes the smallest I can find is a 16 pounder)
1/2c whole cloves
1/2c packed brown sugar
1 (20oz) can pineapple rings in heavy syrup
Maraschino cherries
1 (12oz) can of 7-up or Sprite

Pre-heat the oven to 325˚F. Place the ham in the roasting pan and slice off the top of the ham (because Grandma Staley's pan was too small). Or, it turns out; you can leave the top on your ham. It doesn't make any difference. Score the rind of the ham with a diamond pattern. Press a clove into the center of each diamond. Drain the juice from the pineapple rings into a medium bowl. Stir in the brown sugar and soda. Coat the ham with this mixture. Arrange the pineapple rings over the outside of the ham. Place a maraschino cherry in the center of each pineapple ring. Secure with a toothpick.

Bake (covered) for three or four hours, basting frequently with the juices until the temperature of the ham is 160˚F. Be sure the thermometer is not touching the bone. Remove toothpicks before serving. I was a little worried that I'd cooked this ham too long. It looked overdone on the outside, but it was moist and tender and wonderful. This is probably because I basted it every thirty minutes or so, but I still told my husband it was because I'd cut the top off my ham the way my mother had always done it.

*After you serve the ham, save the bone. We'll use it in a soup later this week.

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