Some of my teammates will be spending the entire four days in Naalehu. They will be staying at digs out there. I've chosen to make the nearly one-and-a-half hour one-way drive each day because I need to be around for the Ds. This also means I will be on the road before 6 am each day, but I suppose that cannot be helped. At least I have leftovers in the freezer to heat up for quick dinners. Somewhere in that vast wasteland (my freezer) are a few bags of meaty chunks of Sugar Bath Ham.
Ham is something I associate with holiday feasting. Whether its Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year, or Easter, ham in some shape or form can be found amidst the rest of the spread. I'm always careful to scrutinize the ham to be sure the devil's condiment (mustard) was not used in any part of the preparation. Ickkkk.....what a way to ruin a perfect chunk of pig. A few years ago, my cousin brought a platter of ham to a family party and said he followed Emeril's recipe. I was totally grossed out when I looked under the foil and saw that it was slathered with yuck.
Over ten years ago, I had a ham epiphany. My uncle's cousin brought a plate of ham to a family party that was THE best ham I ever tasted (even before I was violated by the mere sight of that mustard-clad beast). When I asked how it was made, I was told it was made on the stove top, rather than the oven. The ham had spent a few hours in a sugar bath before being carved.
I've spent many years making hams for parties. I've done great hams in the oven, but I was never able to recreate the sugar bath ham. But this year, thanks to the Sack N Save "free half-ham with two vouchers" program, I decided to take a risk and give it my best shot. I didn't want to go in unarmed, so I googled "stove top ham" to look for ideas. While I was able to find cooking techniques, I wasn't crazy about the ingredients in the bath, so this was where I deviated.
What resulted from this experiment turned out to be THE best ham, even better than the ham from uncle's cousin. I supposed I could've stopped at the sugar bath, but the quick heat blast in the oven burned some fat and carmelized the outer surface. Free ham or not, this is the way I will be making my hams from now on.
click on recipe title for printable recipe
Sugar Bath Ham
Sugar Bath Ham
1 half ham (shank or butt half, about 8 lbs)
Using a carving fork, pierce ham deeply all over. Score layer of fat. Place ham in pot. Pot should be large enough that ham is submerged. If ham is too large to be fully submerged, be certain half of ham can be submerged at all times. Add water to pot, keeping track of how much water is added. Add sugar (half the amount of water). For example, if you added 10 cups of water, add 5 cups of sugar. Bring to a boil. Then reduce heat and simmer for 2 hours, carefully basting/flipping ham as often as possible. Remove ham to broiling pan. Place broiling pan in oven. Turn oven on to 450 degrees and remove ham after 25 minutes. Let rest 20 minutes before carving.