From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...While it's called Christmas Ham, this lovely roast is perfect for any occasion when you have a crowd to feed. If you are planning to host a party for the New Year, you might want to consider adding this ham to your menu. While simple to prepare, ham can be tricky to serve because it can be dry. Not so, with hams made using this method favored by Marcus Jernmark, the chef at Aquavit in New York City. He recommends oven-poaching the ham in an aromatic soup before it is covered with a fabulous mustard glaze and toasted bread crumbs. You will need a ham that has been brined and lightly smoked (this is what you typically find when you ask the butcher for a ham), not a salt-cured "country ham." A brined, smoked ham is considered "partially cooked" and needs only to be heated to 135 to 140 degrees. Many of us have used this method and had uneven results. That's because we neglected a crucial final step and removed the ham from its broth before it had cooled to room temperature. As ham cooks, it loses its ability to hold on to liquid, but as it cools it starts to soak it in again. This simple step will make dry ham a thing of the past. In Sweden, the ham would typically be served with dishes made from other parts of the same pig. A favorite accompaniment would be headcheese. Hogs heads are difficult to find here, said she with tongue in cheek, so I served the ham with grainy mustard rather than headcheese. While rarely seen in the United States, another traditional accompaniment is dopp i gryta, or dip-in-the-pot. This is a fondue-like creation made from the strained and reduced broth in which the ham is poached. It is served with chunks of bread that are dipped into the pot and eaten like fondue. I'm told it's great with beer or aquavit. It's also further proof that peasant and farm kitchens let nothing go to waste. I do hope you'll give the ham a try. Here's the recipe for Swedish Christmas Ham.
Swedish Christmas Ham...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of Marcus Jernmark and Saveur magazine
1 brined and lightly smoked ham (6-9 lbs)
3 quarts boiling water
2 onions, peeled and speared with cloves
1 large carrot, chopped
2 egg yolks
1 tablespoon honey
1 shot espresso
1/2 cup mustard (preferably Swedish)
1/2 cup fine breadcrumbs
1) To prepare ham: Set oven to 200 degrees F. Place ham in an oven-proof pot with the onions and carrot. Insert an oven-proof thermometer into thickest part of ham, and pour in water. Bake ham in water until thermometer reads 167 degrees F, about 2 hours. Remove from oven and cool ham to room temperature while still in pan and covered with water.
2) To prepare glaze: Stir together egg yolks, honey, espresso, and mustard. Increase oven temperature to 450. Gently lift ham out of its water bath and place it on a roasting pan, reserving cooking broth for dopp i gryta (see below). Carefully remove ham rind. Brush top of ham with glaze mixture, and then top with breadcrumbs. Bake ham until glaze becomes golden brown, about 8 minutes. Serve sliced, with more mustard for dipping.
Dopp i Gryta (Dip-in-the-Pot)
Reserved ham broth
Aromatics to taste (fresh bay leaf, dill, parsley, etc.)
Good, crusty bread, cut or torn into bite-size pieces
Strain vegetables and other solids from reserved ham broth. Pour broth into a stockpot and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Add aromatics and let mixture simmer uncovered for one hour, stirring occasionally until liquid is reduced; it should be rich and flavorful. Strain out aromatics and serve clear broth in a fondue pot or another serving vessel, accompanied by bread squares. To eat, spear bread squares with fondue sticks or forks and dip in the liquid.
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