Monday, December 3, 2012

Ham with Pineapple



I will freely admit I've become a Southern food snob. A "Southern" restaurant opened up in Milwaukee a couple of years ago, and everyone who lives there tried to convince me to dine there because they just KNEW I would love it. Well, I've been twice, and I will certainly admit I was impressed by the key lime pie. However, that's about the only good thing I can say about it. This restaurant is very much a Northerner's take on Southern food, beginning with the sweet cornbread. If there's one thing that my husband and in-laws have drilled into my head, it's that true Southern cornbread is NOT sweet. The cornbread at this particular restaurant is sickeningly sweet and super crumbly (we also made the colossal mistake of taking Tony to this restaurant last summer, and I was persona non grata with the waitstaff after he took two huge hunks of cornbread, crumbled them up and threw them under the table). I ordered the jambalaya for my entree, and...eeeew. That's really all I can say about it, and I'm being generous. It was extremely dry, the spices in it were bizarre, and there was definitely a disproportionate meat to rice ratio. Not to mention, this was not a cheap meal, not by any stretch of the imagination. So for all y'all (see, I'm catching on!!!) living up North who want a good Southern meal, your best bet is to search for recipes online and make it yourself. Seriously. Or just invite yourself over to dinner at my in-laws home in Alabama, because they're some of the best Southern cooks I've ever had the pleasure of knowing. However, I'm guessing that they won't appreciate random strangers from the internet ringing their doorbell around dinnertime, so yeah. Stick with the internet searches.

Anyway, I had a serious craving for spiral ham last week, but I knew I had to make it SOUTHERN. I wasn't 100% sure what Southern ham was supposed to taste like, but I knew that it couldn't be too sweet. In other words, I planned on avoiding any recipes by Paula Deen. I love the combination of sweet/salty dishes, but I don't like for one to overpower the other. After I found this recipe, I went to the grocery store and purchased all the necessary ingredients, and boldly asked the cashier at the register if this was a "true" Southern recipe. After she assured me that she had been born and raised in the South and her mama always made ham just like this, I was convinced. (I also made sure to ask "but is this really a SOUTHERN recipe??" more than once. I'm sure I didn't look too weird or anything). I liked this recipe a lot, and it was very easy to make. I changed a few things, mainly the ham itself. I bought a pre-cooked spiral ham to save myself a little time, and I just cooked it according to the directions on the package (275 degrees for an hour and a half, basting frequently). Do whatever you're comfortable with. I served this up with a sweet potato side-recipe to follow shortly-and some biscuits. Watch out world, this Midwestern girl is getting pretty comfortable in the state of Louisiana!

Ingredients:

1 (12lb) bone-in ham. I bought a 10lb ham and that was MORE than enough.
1/2 cup whole cloves. (This seemed like overkill. I used about 1/4 cup).
1 (20oz) can pineapple rings in heavy syrup
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 (12oz) can of lemon-lime soda. I used 7UP.
1 (4oz) jar maraschino cherries

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

2. Place ham in a roasting pan. Score the rind of the ham with a diamond pattern. Press a clove into the center of each diamond (I also put cloves on the outer part of the ham).
3. Drain the juice from the pineapple rings, and add the brown sugar and soda. Stir together.
4. Pour this mixture over the ham.
5. Arrange the pineapple rings around the outside of the ham.
6. Place a maraschino cherry in the center of each pineapple ring, and secure with a toothpick.
7. Bake uncovered for 4-5 hours, basting frequently with the juices, until the internal temperature is 160 degrees. Be sure the meat thermometer is not touching the bone. Remove the toothpicks before serving.

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