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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Snow Globes & Ham For The Ages

What a weekend!  A fabulous snow covered food indulgent weekend.We kicked off yesterday morning bright and early by listening to our favorite women co-host a radio show on 88.1 WRFL here in town.  Good Santa/Bad Santa.  They were so true to form with funny, whacky, and very smart commentary interspersed with great music. That was our coffee time.

We followed coffee time with several rounds of screwdrivers and blood marys as we tore apart packages from under the tree, warm and  snuggled inside while it continued to snow outside.  It was  storybook snow. Snow globe snow. 

After two hours of shenanigans, we were starving.  Thankfully, we had a carryout container  of leftover Waffle House covered, smothered,, chunked, diced, peppered, capped, and topped hash browns in the refrigerator.  Skanky, huh?  Not at all. Call the food police.  After reheating the hash browns, we topped them with sunnyside fried eggs and a sprinkling of fresh parsley.  Drop dead heavenly with succulent unctuous yolks dripping down through  many layers of hash brown toppings puddling on our plates for buttered biscuit sopping.

A gigantic bone-in ham from Critchfields Meats was destined for our dinner table.  It required a lot of attention.  Michael's attention.  He was in charge of the meat.  He selected , bought, and planned the preparation of it.  I watched in awe while taking care of the side dishes.

After breakfast, he had to trim the rind off of the ham before he could score the fat and dot the cloves in strategic intervals.  I winced at the waste of tossing the rind, but knew tons of fatty goodness would be left for future flavor enhancing.  Once the ham was trimmed, scored, and cloved, he placed it in the refrigerator to chill.

After a long winter's nap, we took a long walk through our snow covered neighborhood. It was quiet and still.  Frozen in time.  Beautiful.  The houses sparkled under the snow and glowed with warmth.  We could smell chimney smoke wafting through the trees.

Priorities.  Back to the kitchen and back to the ham.  After pre-heating the oven to a low 325, Michael brushed his ham with an apricot, dry mustard, peach syrup, and brown sugar glaze.  He slid the ham into the oven to slow bake.  After an hour, he glazed it again.  The entire house smelled like sweetly glazed baked ham.  I could taste the aroma.  It was everywhere.

Bitter sharp rapini, or broccoli rabe, would be a perfect foil our ham.  I blanched the broccoli rabe in heavily salted water to pull the bitterness out before plunging it into equally heavily salted iced water to shock the cooking process.  After draining the bitter greens, I set them aside for a later saute.

After three hours in the oven, the ham had morphed into a glistening thing of beauty.  It. Was. Gorgeous.

I sauteed baby Vidalia onions in french butter with lemon halves as garnish before tossing the broccoli rabe into the sizzling pan to saute with garlic, butter, salt, and pepper.

I sliced the ham as thinly as possible, plated it, drizzled it with the sticky pan jus,  and  perched the sweet baby Vidalia onions, dripping in butter, over the ham with broccoli rabe nestled to the side..

It was a ham for the the ages.  I have never tasted or eaten such succulent rich ham meat. It danced on my tongue. The jeweled glazed scored fat literally  caramelzed into candy.   Crisp sensual candied ham fat.  The clove essence was key, adding nuanced subtle spice to the juicy ham. 

Michael's sincere efforts were evident in every bite.

In the wee hours of the morning, I snuck down to the kitchen for one more bite. I'm still sticky.

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