Author: Debbie Dance Uhrig ‘The Covered Dish’
Tonight for dinner I enjoyed a delicious ‘ham’ sandwich. Sourdough bread, cheese, ham and mustard. Divine, absolutely exquisite. Every time I watch Chip and Joanna Gaines on television, Chip asks Joanna to bring a ham sandwich. When quality ham is sliced it should be so decadent it doesn’t need a sugar coating. No glazes no sauces. Just plain ole ‘naked’ ham.
Great chefs tell us that we need a balance with the sweet and salty, in order to enjoy good ham. The ham is salty and the glazes, rubs or sauces provide the sweet. It’s all about acidity and seasonings combining to electrify the palate.
The history of ham and ham sandwiches goes way back to transatlantic flyers who seemed to always carry ham sandwiches, in their planes. In 1894 only ham sandwiches were served in New York ballparks.
On my grandparent’s farm in Northeast Missouri we raised our own hogs. Those were definitely the good ‘ole’ days. Ham was not reserved for Holidays like Easter, it was enjoyed quite regularly, especially since we butchered. The first sauce I ever had with ham was raisin sauce. Mom always made it to go with ham slices or ham steak, very simplistic. My approach is easy, it’s just a little fancier version from moms. Today we find lots of turned up noses when you mention raisin sauce. Why were raisin sauces so prominent? I’m guessing a bit, but I would say it’s because they were so economical. Raisins were a main staple going back to the late 1800’s. If there was a death you took a funeral pie, which is raisin pie. Why? Everyone had raisins on hand 24/7. Grapes were one of the first fruits ever dehydrated.
Raisin sauce was great for most of the year, until the arrival of the holidays. Cranberry and cherry sauces look great garnishing a ham dinner. These sauces can be made totally from scratch, but I’m going to assume you would like something delicious and ‘easy’. That’s the approach I’ve taken on both the cherry and cranberry sauces. Keeping a can of cherry pie filling or chunky cranberry sauce on hand is important during the holidays.
If you’re still gun-ho on a glaze keep in mind they can be created with a combination of things found in your pantry. How about this quick idea: Rum, mustard, vinegar and sorghum or brown sugar. A jezebel sauce made with a bit of leftover jam, mustard, black pepper and wine. Jezebels can be used as the glaze and a side sauce.
All of the sauces provided would also accompany a fresh pork loin. If I have another opportunity to share ham accompaniments with you I’ll go with chutneys and jezebels. Both are excellent served as a side sauce. Last week I developed a new chutney with cherries, pears, peaches, almonds and amaretto!
The smoked Petit Jean hams are definitely hams that rise to the occasion without additional fanfare. Thus the reason why I chose to go with side sauces.
1/2 cup raisins*
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup orange juice
1/3 cup currant jelly, (could use white wine or grape jelly)
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Dash of salt
Dash of allspice or cinnamon
Combine the first 5 ingredients in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil.
Combine brown sugar, cornstarch, salt and allspice; stir into orange juice mixture.
Cook over medium heat 3-4 minutes, stirring constantly, until thickened. Serve sauce warm with ham or pork loin. Yield 1 cup.
*I usually purchase my raisins at Trader Joe’s because of the quality. You can also soak the raisins overnight in apple or orange juice. If you are a bit more daring soak the raisins in a complimenting alcohol or liquor.
(Can be used hot or cold)
1 can cherry pie filling
1/4 cup frozen undiluted cranberry juice concentrate
1/4 teaspoon rum
OR 1/2 teaspoon almond flavoring
After blending all ingredients together this may be used cold for parfaits, cheesecakes, pound cakes or angel food cake. It’s good when heated for ham. This will retain the bright vibrant color needed to enhance your special dishes.
Live dangerously, play with the rum amount and personalize
1 (15.5 ounce) can whole berry cranberry sauce
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup burgundy wine, (merlot would work)*
2 teaspoons prepared mustard
Put all the ingredients into a small saucepan, whisking and stirring to break up the cranberry sauce.
Bring to a boil, decrease heat to a simmer.
The sauce is basically ready to be served. Try using a small crockpot to keep this warm for a dinner party. This is super simple to use with a variety of meats.
*For an alcohol free approach use 6 tablespoons of pomegranate juice and 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar.