Friday, December 19, 2014

Crispy Honey-Glazed Ham – Looks, Tastes, and Sounds Like the Holidays

A great holiday ham glaze needs to have three things; a wonderful flavor, a gorgeous, shiny appearance, and a crispy, crackling crust you can hear across the room. I’m happy to report this easy to make glaze has all those things in abundance.

This honey glaze will work on any size or style of ham, and as long as you keep the mixture quite thick, and caramelize it properly at the end, you will be the proud owner of a magazine cover-quality ham.

As I mention in the video, this was an uncured, fully-cooked, country-style ham, and if you use something similar, I’m recommending you pull it at 130 F. internal temp. Remember, ham is already cooked, so we just want it hot enough to eat. By the way, if you’re using a ham that’s not cooked already, you’re on your own!

The type of ham I used doesn’t contain a lot of added water like most hams in the supermarket, so it’s even more crucial to use a thermometer to achieve the proper temp. The meat has a denser, drier texture, and while the payoff is a superior ham flavor, it can get dry and salty if overcooked.

If you're using a standard ham, you can use the exact same procedure, but maybe go to 140 F., since you have a lot wetter product to work with. I realize many guides say to go to 160-180 F., but I have no idea why.

No matter what ham you use, you’ll need to give the glaze a final caramelizing before it gets anywhere near kale and tiny apples. They say you can crank the oven up to 500 F., or use the broiler, but nothing does a better job than the old blowtorch. If you don’t have one, they’re only $15 at a hardware store, and are an invaluable tool in the kitchen.

So, if a holiday ham is on your menu, I really hope you toss out that packet of who-knows-what, and give this wonderful, crispy honey ham glaze a try. Enjoy!


Enough glaze for a 7-9 pound ham:
1 packed cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp rice vinegar (or any vinegar), or enough to make a thick paste
pinch of cayenne
1 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
For the water in the roasting pan:
2 whole star anise, and a bunch of whole cloves

- Bake ham at 325 F., glazing every 20 minutes until the internal temp is 130 F. for country-style hams, and 140 F. for regular hams.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Truffled Cauliflower Gratin – Now 100% Truffle Oil Free

This cauliflower gratin would typically be “truffled” with truffle oil, but I’ve never been a big fan. Truffle oils are almost always synthetically produced, one-dimensional, and way too overpowering. 

So, in this otherwise humble gratin, we’re going to use another, much more delicious delivery system…truffle pecorino. For less than $10 worth of cheese, I think you can get a much nicer, truer truffle flavor – plus, it’s cheese. By the way, if you know they actually make this cheese with synthetic truffle oil, please keep it to yourself, and don't spoil it for me. 

This stuff is pretty easy to find in fancy grocery stores with decent sized cheese departments, but if you can’t, I’ve seen it online at even better prices.

It’s worth the effort to find, and turns this already great casserole into something truly special, and with side dish season in full swing, I really hope you consider giving this truffled cauliflower gratin a try. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 6-8 Portions
6 tbsp melted butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups milk
1 tsp salt or to taste
pinch of cayenne
pinch of nutmeg
5 to 6 oz wedge of truffle pecorino, grated
1 large head of cauliflower
2 tbsp breadcrumbs
freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano as needed
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
a few fresh chives to garnish

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Culinary School in a Box, and Too-Good-to-Eat Christmas Cookies

My friends at Allrecipes.com have put together a series of online cooking classes, which could make a great gift for the foodies on your list. Whether they admit it or not, we all know your friends and family are envious of your culinary abilities, and secretly wish you’d teach them some of your skills.

Since that’s not going to happen anytime soon (hey, you’re busy, and they can’t afford your rates anyway), why not do the next best thing, and make them learn themselves? With any luck, they’ll practice their “homework” on you. Plus, think of all the time you’ll save wrapping a present.

In case you’re wondering, while I completely stand behind this offering, I'm not personally involved in the course instruction, nor do I directly profit from subscriptions to the school. For more info, head over to cookingschool.allrecipes.com. Enjoy!

Christmas Cookie Decorating Ideas


I’m not much of a cookie guy, and even less of a decorating cookie guy; so, since I’m no help, I thought I’d pass along this great post by Karen Gaudette, called 21 Fun And Creative Cookie Decorating Ideas. Because Christmas.

Ironically, the ultimate goal with this kind of thing is to make a cookie so amazing, so intricate, and so visually arresting, that no one would dare bite into it. “How were the cookies? No idea, they were too nice to eat.” Just imagine. Enjoy!