There's a New and Improved Way to Enjoy Ham this Year
For certain holidays during the calendar year, a centerpiece platter piled with pink, porky glory is as much a signature of the celebration as a glowing Christmas tree or pastel painted Easter baskets. But we’ve developed a new way to get your ham on—one that accommodates a wider range of ham lovers—along with a new essential term that you need to adopt into your kitchen vernacular, STAT. It’s time you learn how to hamify.
1. The act of treating an object that is not a ham in the way that one would treat a ham so that the object ultimately bears a strong resemblance to ham. 2. The act of imposing authentic ham flavor and character onto an object that is not a ham.
You know how Timon and Pumba assert the phrase hakuna matata as their core spiritual motto to address all of life’s problems? Our team did the same thing—except only to address ham problems. We recently coined the term above because ham is a legitimately wonderful, versatile, and lovable piece of a pig that satisfies sentimental appetites for tradition and familiarity, but… your typical holiday ham is also a rather large cut of meat. And that can present some issues. Namely, you’re about to be saddled with enough leftover pork to feed you well past the point at which you begin developing a destructive resentment towards whoever thought buying a 16-pound hunk of swine for Christmas dinner was a good idea (even/especially if that person was you), particularly if you:
- A. Want to branch out with your holiday feast menu and try making a different centerpiece entree, but are still inclined to get some ham on the table to pay homage to the classics.
- B. Won’t have that many people at your holiday table to begin with.
The answer, my friends, is to hamify (it means no leftovers!). Because this is a completely made up word that couldn’t possibly mean anything to you yet, here are two prime examples of hamifying in action. The recipes below were crafted to define the true spirit of hamifying.
Rather than a cured ham adorned with pineapple, we cured a pineapple and garnished it with ham (#hamified). Robin Bashinsky, the test kitchen chef who developed these recipes (he’s something of a weird visionary when it comes projects to such as this), describes them best. According to him, “This is kind of a grown-up, protein-flip situation of a deal. A whole cured pineapple, prosciutto, and pomegranate are the Instagram-ready descendants of the classic ham with pineapple and maraschino cherries. With the glaze, pomegranate, salty prosciutto, and fresh mint working with the charred pineapple, this hits a lot of flavor notes. It’s the platter you can put on a buffet for real wow factor. You just carve it like a… well, a ham.”
This delicious beauty is an ideal dish for adventurous entertainers who want to put something different and exciting on the table (including a hunk of meat other than the hind haunch of a pig as their main), but still want to let ham represent at the Christmas party. Salty, sweet, savory, and delicately smoky, our Ham Cured Pineapple with Pomegranate and Pork is guaranteed to be a stand-out addition to any holiday feast. Now, if you wanted to go so far as to hamify more than one dish in your spread, I’d highly recommend checking out Cooking Light’s umami-tastic Ham-Roasted Vegetables—which feature a blend of carrots, fennel, and parsnips brined in a rich ham broth overnight before being roasted to caramelized perfection.
A hamified pork tenderloin is the perfect entree for those who want to celebrate with a classic holiday table, even if it is only for you and a significant there this year. You both get to enjoy the special seasonal joy of sitting down to a holiday ham, but won’t have to subsist off of remixes of it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner in days to come. “This dish tastes surprisingly just like ham, AND it’s pink! You simply make a traditional (I adapted Michael Ruhlman’s) wet brine that a big ol’ pig leg would sit in for a couple of weeks, but since the standard wisdom is one day per pound of meat, this pork loin only takes one day. I used the pink curing salt from Williams Sonoma here, which is what I’d recommend. You could use Prague #1, which is what all the big ham makers use, but it’s kind of toxic and you can only buy it in 20-pound quantities,” Bashinsky says. If you’re serving more than two, but still only a few, you can make two of these hamified tenderloins as easily as you prep one.