Just a shot of what we had for Christmas dinner and the recipes we used.
For the Christmas ham, we used a combination of Boar’s Head Glaze (available in some supermarkets, we got ours at Ralph’s) and Alton Brown’s recipe. But starting from next year, we decided to use Alton Brown’s recipe and method. The ham turned out great. We also used our new oven thermometer that beeps when the meat reaches a fixed temperature.
Alton Brown’s City Ham
(taken from here)
- 1 city style (brined) ham, hock end* (Ours was about 10 pounds)
- 1/4 cup brown mustard
- 2 cups dark brown sugar
- 1-ounce bourbon (poured into a spritz bottle)
- 2 cups crushed ginger snap cookies
- Heat oven to 250°F.
- Remove ham from bag, rinse and drain thoroughly.
- Place ham, cut side down, in a roasting pan. Using a small paring knife, score the ham from bottom to top, spiraling clockwise as you cut. (If you’re using a paring knife, be careful to only cut through the skin and first few layers of fat). Rotate the ham after each cut so that the scores are no more than 2-inches across. Once you’ve made it all the way around, move the knife to the other hand and repeat, spiraling counter clockwise. The aim is to create a diamond pattern all over the ham. Don’t worry too much about precision here.
- Tent the ham with heavy duty foil, insert a thermometer, and cook for 3 to 4 hours or until the internal temperature at the deepest part of the meat registers 130°F.
- Remove and use tongs to pull away the diamonds of skin and any sheets of fat that come off with them.
- Heat oven to 350°F.
- Dab dry with paper towels, then brush on a liberal coat of mustard. Sprinkle on brown sugar, until the ham is coated. Spritz this layer lightly with bourbon, then loosely pack on as much of the crushed cookies as you can.
- Insert the thermometer (don’t use the old hole) and return to the oven (uncovered). Cook until interior temperature reaches 140°F, approximately 1 hour.
- Let the roast rest for 1/2 hour before carving.
*Cook’s note: A city ham is basically any brined ham that’s packed in a plastic bag, held in a refrigerated case and marked “ready to cook”, “partially cooked” or “ready to serve”. Better city hams are also labeled “ham in natural juices”.
For the cranberry sauce, I like to use Pioneer Woman’s recipe because she doesn’t use straight up sugar but maple syrup instead. I feel this gives it a richer flavor. Making your own cranberry sauce is ridiculously easy so I really don’t understand why people would buy the pre-made ones, especially the ones in a can.
Homemade Cranberry Sauce
(taken from The Pioneer Woman; recipe here)
Prep time: 5 min; Cooking time: about 15 min or more depending on the consistency you want; Serves 4 according to PW. I find this amount comfortable for a Thanksgiving meal for 10.
- 1 bag (12 Oz. Bag) Cranberries
- 1 cup Cranberry Juice (or Orange, Apple Or Any Ot¬her Juice Combination)
- 1 cup Pure Maple Syrup (not Pancake Syrup!)
- 3 Tablespoons Juice (you Could Also Do Orange Zest, Lemon Zest, Lemon Juice – Anything Citrusy)
- Wash bag of cranberries under cool water, then dump into a medium saucepan.
- Pour in 1 cup of cranberry juice (or whatever juice you choose).
- Pour in 1 cup maple syrup. Add orange juice (you could also do orange zest, lemon zest, lemon juice – anything citrusy).
- Stir together and turn heat on high until it reaches a boil.
- Once it comes to a rolling boil, turn the heat down to medium low and continue cooking over lower heat for about 10 minutes, or until the juice is thick. Turn off the heat.
For the mashed potatoes, I recently read about this method on Kitchn. It tells you how to make the best mashed potatoes and yep, I tried it and it indeed makes the best mashed potatoes. They also reheat very well. I tried out this method for Thanksgiving and the mash turned out great. Repeated results for Christmas :D.
To sum up the article:
1. Cook the potatoes whole, without peeling them.
2. After the potatoes are done, you can mash them and remove skins, or just leave the skins in the mash.
3. Add warm, melted butter first.
4. Then add the warm dairy (milk, cream etc.)
5. Season and add any other extras (e.g., roasted garlic, paprika etc.)
For the roasted brussel sprouts (by the way, the hubs and I feel that the ONLY way to cook brussel sprouts is to roast them), we started with good bacon. We bought a very yummy black forest bacon from Whole Foods (unexpected purchase, but it was calling out to us), cut it into small pieces and fried it on med-high heat to render as much fat as possible. The bacon was pretty lean, but still produced some oily goodness for us to toss our brussel sprouts in, if needed, you can add more oil. The sprouts were halved and we also added in some carrots (cut up into medium sized even pieces). Spread on roasting tray, season with salt and pepper and roast at 350F for about 20-30 minutes. You can also add some garlic and herbs.