At the end of the festivities that bring people together during the darkest days of the old year comes New Year’s Day.
Some celebrate this hopeful new beginning with a toast and a kiss at the stroke of midnight, some with celebratory dinner on New Years Day and others — the energetic ones — with both.
An occasion as important as the beginning of a new year calls for a festive menu. Expectations aren’t as universal, or nearly so, as those for turkey, dressing and gravy at Christmas dinner. The cook has some discretion on New Year’s Day.
When we get back into the work days and evening commitments that January will bring, weeknight meals will need to be quick to prepare in busy households. However, there is time on New Years Day to cook a big piece of meat — a roast, ham, turkey or some other type of poultry — for a feast to share, and leftovers to incorporate into meals on busier days.
I think that ham is a delicious choice, and I’ve been reading up on the different types of ham and similar smoked cuts.
Cooked ham, cured and smoked, is cut from the pork leg, and may be either the shank end or butt end or — for a whole ham — both. Although it is pre-cooked, smoked ham is usually heated before serving.
Bone-in ham is more difficult to slice than boneless, but the bone isn’t just waste. It can be used to make stock for hearty pea, bean or lentil soups.
To cook a bone-in ham, place it in a shallow roasting pan and bake at 160 C (325 F) for 10 to 15 minutes per 500 g (pound), until a thermometer shows it’s reached an internal temperature of 60 C (140 F). Let it stand for 10 to 15 minutes before carving to allow juices to settle.
For a fancier presentation, you can remove the ham from the oven 30 minutes before it’s done and cut criss-cross slashes (scores) in the skin to create diamonds. Insert whole cloves into the diamonds for a decorative effect. You can also baste with a glaze during the final 15 to 30 minutes of cooking, to add some shine and zesty flavour.
Boneless whole muscle ham, sold as Black Forest or Black-Forest style ham, has the bone removed and the muscles moulded into a football shape. You can buy whole, half, or quartered boneless ham. It is cured, smoked, and fully-cooked. Cook and glaze just as you would a bone-in ham.
Dinner ham has been processed considerably more than bone-in ham and boneless whole muscle ham. It is chopped and packed in a cylindrical shape, like a very fat sausage, and fully cooked. It has a higher moisture content than the full muscle cuts, and is less expensive. Follow the same directions as for cooking and glazing bone-in or boneless whole muscle ham.
While the ham cuts above come from the pork leg (the back leg area), pork cut from the shoulder (the front end) is also cured and smoked.
Smoked cottage roll, from the shoulder butt (the top end of the shoulder), is cured in brine and smoked. It is sold uncooked, boneless, and netted. To cook, leave the netting in place, and place the cottage roll in a large pot. Cover with water, with added bay leaf, whole cloves and garlic if desired. Cover, bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat and simmer for 35 minutes per 500 g (pound) for cottage rolls up to 1.75 kg (3 ½ lb), or 30 minutes per 500 g (pound) for cottage rolls over 1.75 kg (3 ½ lb), until the internal temperature reaches 70 C (160 F). Remove netting before slicing.
Smoked pork picnic shoulder, from the lower front leg, may be boneless or bone-in. It is smoked and cured, and netted. To cook an uncooked smoked picnic shoulder, place in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cover, simmer over low heat for 2 to 2 ½ hours, until the internal temperature reaches 70 C (160 F). Glaze, if desired, by placing in a shallow roasting pan, brushing with a glaze, and baking 15 to 30 minutes in a 160 C (325 F) oven.
For fully cooked smoked pork picnic shoulder, either heat at 160 C (325 F) for 10 to 15 minutes per 500 g (pound), or simmer in water, in a covered pot.
There are all kinds of recipes for glazes. Use your imagination to invent your own tasty mix, or try either of these, from Ontario Pork.
125mL (1/4cup) maple syrup
25 mL (2 tbsp) all-purpose flour
15 mL (1 tbsp) each Dijon mustard and lemon juice
dash powdered ginger
Mix all ingredients, and brush on ham for the last 15 to 30 minutes of cooking.
Old Fashioned Glaze
2 cups 500 mL (2 cups) brown sugar
25 mL (2 Tbsp) all-purpose flour
25 mL (2 Tbsp) corn syrup,
10 mL (2 tsp) dry mustard
45 mL (3 Tbsp) white wine vinegar
Mix all ingredients, and brush on ham for the last 15 - 30 minutes of cooking.
Best wishes for a very happy new year, from my kitchen to yours.
Margaret Prouse, a home economist, can be reached by writing her at RR#2, North Wiltshire, P.E.I., C0A 1Y0, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.