You know, we’re all getting savvy about this blog, and the name of the game is “labor saving”. It’s not not uncommon for any of us to take photos of what we’ve made for dinner. Whipped up a gorgeous spinach pie for dinner? Well then, better take a picture, just in case National Spinach Day is hiding somewhere in June. Today’s post is one of those sneaky things. I did not make a ham last night, or even last week. I made it in January, on the same day I made Peach Melba Buckle. Let me take you back…

*fuzzy wavy lines, jazz hands, spinning and any other cliche from the movies that indicates time travel*

It’s early January. For the last few weeks, most of my friends have been dispersed across the country, going back to wherever home is. We all have battle scars, from the mundane (Victorians hate being forced to wear parkas and winter boots–it burns!) to the trauma of what Aunt Edith said at the christmas dinner table and the crush of holiday airports. There are stories to swap, and re-connections to be made. So I like to gather my people (or my tribe, as Rumon would say) at my house for the therapeutic swapping of stories, some great food, and a big dose of community. Last year the gathering of the peeps was done under the umbrella of Turkey Appreciation Day, where B, with my assistance, made a bacon covered turkey with all the trimmings. It was epic, and delicious. This year I decided to save myself a little effort and host a potluck. My contribution would be a great big ham to anchor the meal.

So a ham – I’ve never cooked one before. I’ve never really even looked at them before. But I took some comfort in knowing that they are already cooked, which felt like half the battle. I consulted the usual sources when I’m cooking in new territory – the internet, my mother, and my sister J. “does the bone go up and down, or side to side?” “what kind of glaze should I use?” “Shoulder cut?” etc. etc. They got me sorted out, and off I went to the grocery store….

At which time I learned that the week after christmas is not a great time to shop for a ham. There was no selection. None. So I bought what they had, which was a spiral cut ham. On the up side, pork generally is very inexpensive right now. I think this ham was enough to feed 20+ people, and it was about $30.

What’s this spiral thing, you’re asking? Well, it seems some clever butcher or marketer got the idea that carving a ham was too much work for the happy housewife, so they have cut around and around the bone of the ham, so that you only have to make a few slices to have a platter full of ham ready to hit the table. Here’s a photo from the fine poeple at kansas city steaks, which gives you the general idea.

On my sister’s suggestion, I selected a recipe of Jamie Oliver’s for the ham, and then of course, did my own thing with it. Here’s my version:

Jamie’s Ham a la Deanna:

One PRECOOKED spiral ham

Score the fat of the ham, in a diamond pattern. [I didn’t trim the fat down, but in retrospect, this was one fatty porker. I think I would trim the fat to 1/2 an inch thick, and then score it… live and learn.]

5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tbls hot pepper flakes
4 red shallots, peeled and diced
1 tbsp brown sugar
12 sprigs fresh thyme
2 tbsp each ground allspice, ground nutmeg, ground cloves and sea salt
1/2 c golden rum
1/4 c malt vinegar

Wizz all of the above in a food processor, or with the chopper attachment of an immersion blender. Rub all over the ham, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a long time – 8 to 24 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Put the ham in bone side down i.e. so the bone is running vertically through the meat) on a little rack in the bottom of a the roasting pan. This isn’t typically how you cook a ham, but I think in the case of the sprial ham, the ham people recommend this so that the slices don’t start to peel away from the ham as it cooks.

Bake for 90 min. The ham should be heated all the way through at that point. Remove the ham from the oven, and crank the oven to 425F. Brush the ham with the following glaze:

3 tbsp marmalade
1 c orange juice
1/2 c golden rum

Pop the ham back in the oven, then continue cooking the ham for another 30–40 minutes, basting with glaze every 10 minutes until crisp, golden and sticky. Let rest for a few minutes, carve and serve.

As for the spiral cut, I give it a thumbs down. I think all the cuts let the meat dry out a little more than it normally would, and I didn’t like the uniform look of the meat when it was served, Sure it was easy, but how hard is it really to carve a beast?