April 19th, 2015

apricot-sorghum glazed ham, cornbread with the works

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Ham. Sorghum. Cornmeal. A trio of decidedly Southern ingredients are at the heart of today’s post, in dishes designed to feed a crowd. It is rare that I have the occasion to bake a big ham, or a 12″ by 20″ pan of cornbread, but this month’s potluck gathering, held in partnership with Dirty Pages, was made for that.

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I’ve told you a little bit about this interactive art show: portraits of Nashville women and their beloved “dirty page” recipes that give a glimpse into their cooking lives.

The exhibit has been up since March 19th. Its organizers, local food writers and enthusiasts Jennifer Justus, Erin Byers Murray, and Cindy Wall wanted to do something grand, fun and fitting for the closing of this community-minded show. Partnering with my group for an expanded community potluck was brilliant.

Our April potluck, this time dubbed Dirty Pages+Third Thursday, gathered last week at our Nashville Farmers Market. More than 60 people arrived, many bearing their own favorite dirty page dish. (also present was a photographer/essayist for the New York Times. We’ll be looking for the story over Mother’s Day weekend!)

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My featured Dirty Page recipe, Leola’s Cornbread, was my inspiration. Over the many years, I have respected this recipe for its versatility–and forgiving nature. Even though I’ve altered some aspects of the original, using much less sugar, and all butter instead of margarine–I have found that the ratios of cornmeal to flour to baking powder to wet ingredients to be spot-on. It always works, and tastes delicious.

I’ve seen too many cornbread recipes where there’s more flour than cornmeal, which makes no sense to me!

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This batch has it all. Into the batter, I fold generous amounts of whole kernel corn, chopped jalapenos, green onions, and shredded sharp cheddar–which it readily accepts.

The whole shebang comes together quickly–mixed by hand in a large bowl. I like that part too.

Baking is a breeze. In less than 30 minutes, what emerges is a golden green-flecked slab, enriched with cheese, sparked with heat.

Accommodating, adaptable, this recipe can be cut in half for a smaller needs, baked in an ordinary 9″x13″ casserole. From my big pan, I was able to get 60 small squares, just right for our potluck crowd.

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Now, onto the prize, this ham. Here are some tips for baking a sumptuous one:

When carving away the hide and excess fat, I always leave a layer, which I gently score in crisscross fashion. The fat is essential for insuring juicy meat.

In spicing, I go old school, inserting whole cloves at each intersection.

Hams love fruit and sweet, with a little pungency. In the past, I’ve coated hams in apricot mustard, or brown sugar mixed with brown mustard and spices, or cane syrup-pecan glaze.

Today’s glaze is made with apricot preserves (although peach would be terrific too–and more Southern. I happened to have apricot on hand.) melted with coarse grain mustard and sorghum.
I love the dark mineral sweetness of sorghum; it adds compelling depth to the glaze. Molasses works too, although I find it can be overpowering. Use a little less, if you must substitute.

If I’m baking a half ham (as it usually is sold in shank and butt portions) I rub a small amount of the glaze onto it before baking. For the first hour of baking, I place the ham inverted–the pink meat side down, bone end straight up, so that the scored fat on all sides is exposed. It makes for more even roasting, and juicier meat.

After an hour, I remove the ham from the oven. I slather it with the remaining glaze, and set it upright in the roasting pan to finish. During that last 30 minutes, the glaze will become shiny and charred, imparting its layered sweetness and piquancy.

Leftovers? With a big ham, that’s always the case. A ham bone is indispensable for certain soups, or beans. Here are some excellent ideas and recipes for using up that tasty ham.

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APRICOT-SORGHUM GLAZED BAKED HAM
6-8 pound bone-in sugar cured ham (shank or butt portion)
whole cloves (24 or so)
1/2 cup apricot preserves (peach preserves work splendidly too)
1/2 cup coarse grain mustard
1/3 cup sorghum (you may substitute cane syrup, or molasses–use only 1/4 cup molasses)
1 cup water

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Trim the ham, removing tough outer hide pieces and any excess fat. Leave a thin layer of fat to help seal in the juices of the meat. Score the ham in crisscross fashion, cutting into, but not all the way through, that thin layer of fat. Place a clove at each intersection and place into a roasting pan.

Place a saucepan on low heat. Add the apricot preserves, coarse grain mustard, and sorghum. Stir together as the mixture warms. It will become “glazy.” Remove from heat.

Lightly brush the glaze over the ham–reserving most of the glaze for later. Pour the water into the bottom of the baking pan.

Place into the oven and bake uncovered, allowing 15 minutes per pound. (An 8 pound ham requires 2 hours bake time.)

After the ham is 75% done (after one and a half hours for the 8 pounder!) liberally coat the ham with the remaining glaze. Cook for another 30 minutes. The glaze with bubble and brown on the ham.

Allow the meat to rest at least 15 minutes before carving. The ham can be baked in advance and kept warm. It is also delicious served room temperature.

Serves 15-20

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LEOLA’S INSPIRATION: CORNBREAD WITH THE WORKS
3 cups cornmeal
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
4 eggs
3 cups milk
1 pound butter, melted and slightly cooled
2 cups corn kernels (can use frozen or fresh)
2 jalapenos, chopped (add their seeds for extra heat)
6 green onions, chopped
12 ounces shredded sharp cheddar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Grease a large baking dish (like a hotel pan, 12″ by 20″) or two 9″ by 13″ baking dishes.
Place all of the dry ingredients into a large bowl. Whisk until the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, sugar and salt are blended.

Break the eggs into a separate bowl and lightly beat. Pour in the milk and the melted butter. Stir well.

Make a well in the dry ingredients. Pour in the wet ingredients and stir just until incorporated. Do not overmix–it will toughen the bread.
Fold in the corn, jalapenos, green onions and sharp cheddar.
Pour into the prepared baking dish(es)
Place onto the middle rack of the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes. Rotate the pan(s) after 15 minutes.
Remove and allow to cool for 10 minutes before cutting into squares.

Serves a crowd! (makes 48-60 squares)

Dirty Pages Poster

Posted in Breads, Casseroles, Meats/Poultry, Recipes

11 Responses to “apricot-sorghum glazed ham, cornbread with the works”
  1. Kath Says:

    Nancy, you are such a source of inspiration. I love the dirty pages idea and combined with your Third Thursday it is so exciting. I love the idea of sixty people gathering for a big potluck. That ham looks so delicious. I had to google sorghum as I had not seen it used as a molasses before.

  2. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Hi Kath, Thanks so much. The event has been so much fun and well-received by our community. Regarding the sorghum: I also think that you could use Treacle–golden syrup as a substitute.

  3. ernestine Says:

    Looks so good
    and similar to what I prepared
    for 13 for Easter Sunday lunch..

  4. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Hi Ernestine–there’s nothing like a ham to easily serve a large group!

  5. heather Says:

    How fun! The cornbread is inspiring to me, I want to have a party just to give it a try! Thank you Nancy!

  6. Johanne Lamarche Says:

    Love the idea of leaving a culinary inheritance through The Dirty Pages, Nancy and these two recipes are sure to be treasured. They look really enticing!

  7. Barbara Says:

    Dirty Pages is such a cute idea…passed it on to our Historical Society!
    Your ham looks divine, Nancy. I confess, I don’t have many opportunities to bake one these days, but I’d love to try your recipe.
    The cornbread is chock full of good stuff…the more corn the better!

  8. Teresa Blackburn Says:

    Love the show and loved eating the ham and cornbread so much at this past week’s Third Thursday. It was just one of the best hams ever Nancy! Well done on all accounts.

  9. Gerlinde Says:

    I have been looking for a good ham recipe and I think I found it. Thank you Nancy.Your cornbread looks like a real crowd pleaser!

  10. Beth Says:

    What a gorgeous ham! And the cornbread looks amazing too. I’d love to try them both!

  11. David Miller Says:

    Lovely combination of flavors here and no doubt delicious. I love an explosion of flavors.



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