A maple, brown sugar and Dijon glazed ham served with a pineapple salsa
If you’ve been with us for a while then you know that both of us are married to men who are not Greek. Although they have both embraced our Greek culture, religion, heritage, customs, language and traditions, they are xeni (the Greek way of say not Greek). Both men are a beautiful medley of English, Irish and Scottish descent and with a Canadian lineage that goes back a few generations at least.
John is Billie’s husband, and he is a gem. As a child he spent a lot of his time with his maternal grandparents, Viola and Eldon, surrounded by love, kindness and food that his grandma served with pride. This was a very traditional home where the man of the house worked and the woman kept the home pristine and comfortable, and every night dinner was a committed affair. The table was always set perfectly, manners were paramount, and meals began with a prayer and thanks. John relished the time he spent with his grandparents and thrived under their care. Sleepovers with grandpa and grandma were the highlight of young John’s week. It’s no wonder that when John and Billie were married, Viola and Eldon were the two people who walked him down the aisle. They were so proud.
Although John’s grandmother cooked daily, and elaborately some of the time, some of John’s favourite recipes were as simple as could be. They were simple, but to a young boy’s palate, they were the most delicious things on earth. Sometimes he was served peanut butter and margarine sandwiches cut into squares with the crust removed. Other times he would be invited to help himself to the pile of cream cheese and maraschino cherry sandwiches that his grandma would prepare for church luncheons.
Other times Viola’s meals were fancier than sandwiches. On special occasions, she would spend hours in the kitchen and one of the meals that she often made was a ham. Viola’s ham recipe looked as though it came straight out of a cooking magazine from the 70’s. She slathered the ham with brown sugar and yellow mustard and used toothpicks to decorate it with canned pineapple rings and maraschino cherries. As a child John would anxiously anticipate the ham and his grandma would always make a point of giving him a piece with a generous presence of the sweet and sticky glaze.
Eldon and Viola were married for 70 years and had a wonderful life together. Even now that they are gone they remain an inspiration and example of commitment, love and family.
This recipe for maple glazed smoked ham served with a pineapple salsa is John’s adaptation of his grandma’s classic recipe. Although the original was (and still is) great, he was inspired to create something a little different. Instead of decorating the ham with pineapple rings, he has made a pineapple salsa with a bit of heat; that way every bite of ham can be complemented by the fresh taste of the pineapple. Although Viola sweetened her ham with brown sugar, John uses both maple syrup and brown sugar and the old-fashioned Dijon mustard brings a bit of spice.
What is ham? And what are the different types of ham available?
You can find several varieties of ham in the grocery store or at the butcher. Hams are cut from the rear leg of a pig and although you can buy fresh ham from the butcher, if you cooked it it would really just taste like most other cuts of pork. What makes ham unique is that it is typically cured, baked and smoked – giving it a unique taste and texture that is hard to replicate.
If you purchase a ham that is cured or cured and smoked you can actually eat it cold. That’s why you can add cold ham that you purchase sliced at the deli counter to your sandwich. A larger ham however that will be served as a meal should be heated through, as it is in this recipe.
It can be daunting to make a ham selection if you are unfamiliar with this choice of meat. The best advice we have is to speak to your local butcher, but in the meanwhile, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- When purchasing your ham be sure to know if it is partially cooked or fully cooked; this will impact your cooking time
- You can buy half hams which are either shank-end or butt-end hams. The shank end ham is what we have used in this recipe and is the lower end of the leg. The butt-end tends to be more tender and easier to carve since it only has one bone.
- You can purchase bone-in or boneless hams. We prefer the bone-in hams because they have more flavour than the boneless varieties which are processed and in turn lose not only the bone but also some of the flavour and texture.
- There are many specialty hams available, including prosciutto, Smithfield ham, Serrano ham and more
- Picnic ham, which you may have heard of, is actually not ham at all, but is cut from the front leg.
What is the difference between Dijon mustard and regular (or prepared or yellow) mustard?
Not all mustards are created equal! On a very basic level, regular (also known as prepared or yellow ) mustard is a much brighter yellow than Dijon mustard is. Regular mustard is also more acidic as it contains vinegar. Dijon on the other hand is made with a liquid called verjuice, which is an acidic juice made from unripe grapes. Because it uses less of the liquid, Dijon is also creamier in texture. Dijon mustard is also spicier because unlike regular mustard which is made with milder tasting yellow and white mustard seeds, Dijon is made with brown and black mustard seeds which are more intense in flavour.
Having said that, you can actually use any mustard that you like (or have) for this glaze. John’s grandmother always used prepared mustard when she made ham and it was very delicious.
In this recipe for Maple glazed ham, we used whole grain mustard, which is also often called old-fashioned Dijon. In this condiment the mustard seeds are not ground to a fine paste, leaving instead a seedy texture. We love the flavour and complexity of whole grain mustard and use it regularly. It works quite well in this glazed ham recipe.
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Maple glazed smoked ham
- Large roasting pan
- Brush for applying glaze
- Meat thermometer
- 1 ham, bone-in, hickory smoked, fully cooked we used a 5.38 kg ham
- vegetable oil for greasing roasting pan
For the glaze
- 1 cup (250 mL) maple syrup
- 1/2 cup (100 grams) brown sugar
- 4 tbsp dijon mustard, old-fashioned
- 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
For the salsa
- 2 cups finely diced pineapple
- 1/2 jalapeno, finely diced you could add more to taste
- 1/4 medium red onion, cut into small dice
- 1 tbsp parley, finely chopped
- 1/2 lime
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Prepare your ham by patting it dry. Then, score the ham all over, especially where you have a layer of fat, into a criss-cross shape. Use a sharp knife and cut approximately 1/4 inch thick.
- Grease the bottom of a large roasting pan with a bit of vegetable oil. Place your ham into the center of the pan with the cut side down and the bone pointing upwards.
- Roast, uncovered for the amount of time that it will take for your ham to warm through. Note, for a fully cooked and smoked bone in ham you will need about 15 - 20 minutes per pound to get to the safe internal temperature of 325 degrees Fahrenheit (163 degrees Celsius).
- While your ham is roasting, prepare the glaze and the pineapple salsa (see below)
- 30 minutes before your ham is ready remove it from the oven. You will notice that there is juice which has collected in the bottom of the roasting pan. Using a baster, baste your ham with this juice.
- Next, using a large basting brush, coat the ham with the glaze, being sure to coat all visible sides of the ham with the glaze (do not coat the underside of the ham with glaze).
- Once you have brushed the glaze all over the ham, pour the rest of the glaze mixture evenly over the ham.
- Return the roasting pan with the ham back to the oven and bake for the final 30 minutes. Use a meat thermometer to ensure that the internal temperature of the ham is 325 degrees Fahrenheit (163 degrees Celsius).
- Remove the roasting pan from the oven and allow your ham to rest for about 10 minutes before slicing it.
For the glaze
- In a medium sized bowl combine the maple syrup, brown sugar, Dijon mustard and Worcestershire sauce.
- Whisk all the ingredients together until well combined. Set aside.
For the salsa
- In a medium sized bowl combine the pineapple, jalapeno, red onion, parsley and the juice from 1/2 a lime.
- Mix well and taste. Adjust with more jalapeno and/or lime juice if desired. Set aside.
- Transfer your ham to a cutting board for carving or to a serving platter. If desired (highly recommended) drain the drippings that are in the bottom of your pan through a fine sieve. Serve this sauce with your ham as a gravy.
- Serve the ham with this gravy and with the pineapple salsa.