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Islay Ham

by Jane Worthington-Roth

For many families, a Sunday Ham is a common dinner. In New Orleans, the ham dinner on Sunday often morphs into Red Beans and Rice on Monday. I really enjoy ham but don’t often think to make it except for family holiday dinners, which is too bad, since it’s such a delicious and easy-to-make meal. I recently picked up a large Leidy’s Bone-In Ham at Stop and Shop - the perfect choice.

In the 1950’s our parents often decorated ham with a collage of pineapple rings and maraschino cherries studded with cloves over a brown sugar glaze. Cloyingly sweet! I needed something more sophisticated – elegant and flavorful – with a combination of slightly sweet and smoky. A simple four-ingredient glaze was the perfect balance. My husband loves the smoky peaty single malt scotches that come from the island of Islay off the west coast of Scotland. So I decided to steal a quarter of a cup of his smokiest scotch, Ardbeg, and use that as the base for my glaze, hence the name “Islay Ham.” I cannot begin to describe the phenomenal aroma that wafted through our house as that ham cooked! We were only too happy to open the oven to gently paint on more glaze resulting in what looked like a lacquered mahogany colored ham.

Most store-bought hams are already fully cooked. They’ve generally been soaked in brine and then either smoked or boiled. A country-cured ham is dry-cured and has a more intense flavor. Fresh hams are uncured and must be fully cooked before eating. For this recipe I use a brined, smoked bone-in ham. Because it’s already cooked, you only need to bake it for about 10-15 minutes per pound. For a beautiful presentation, plate the ham slices with parsley sprigs and bright orange kumquats.

For the glaze:
½ cup pomegranate molasses
¼ cup Dijon-style mustard
¼ cup Ardbeg single malt scotch
1 teaspoon ground allspice

Bone-in smoked ham (I made a 14 pound ham for a family of 10 and had leftovers)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Mix the glaze ingredients in a bowl and set aside.

Place the ham in a roasting pan fat-side-up and carefully score the fat in a diamond pattern being careful to not cut through to the meat.

Brush the glaze all over the ham and bake, painting on additional glaze about every 20 minutes, until the internal temperature of the ham registers 130 degrees F. The glaze will make the ham turn a deep dark brown as it bakes.

To serve, slice the ham and coat the individual slices with glaze. Serve with mustard and additional glaze on the side.