True to form, I’ve told you about dessert before dinner. What can I say, I was really excited about that key lime coconut cake! But the dinner definitely held up to the dessert that followed. We didn’t really have any plans for Easter dinner, but wanted something that was easy and celebrated spring. We had planned to make an asparagus and bacon quiche with a goat cheese and strawberry topped salad, but things took a turn when we got to the Whole Foods and saw that Vermont Smoke and Cure had a table set up with a bunch of different samples. We love their pepperoni but had never tried any of their other products. We both tried the ham, took one look at each other, nodded, and I picked out the smallest ham they had while Joseph returned the quiche ingredients that we no longer needed.
I hadn’t even known that ham was a classical Easter dish until about a week ago. I have no real memory of Easter dinner growing up. My Easter memories revolve entirely around the chocolate cake with green coconut grass and peeps that my mom made, and the absolute best Easter egg hunt you could imagine. Our good family friends had a cabin in the Shenandoah’s and we would all head out there for the weekend. After a hearty scrambled egg breakfast, we would venture out into the woods where the “Easter Bunny” (aka our fathers) had hidden eggs. As the youngest, Stanley and I would get a head start before our older sisters raced past us and got all the eggs in the higher branches.
The eggs were a mixture of hard boiled eggs that we had dyed the day before and plastic and metal (yeah, really old school) eggs filled with candy. After we scoured the woods for eggs, we would sit on the floor, decide who had won the biggest loot prize, and commence trading of candy for our favorites. Every year there was a “winner” of the special egg: a plastic egg with a carrot or piece of broccoli in it to the great delight of our mothers. We were considerably less amused.
This past Easter, as I was sitting by the open window, I watched our neighbor’s granddaughter “hunt” for eggs in their backyard. Honestly, I felt sorry for her because I could see every one of those neon eggs from where I sat, even though I was much farther away. Where’s the fun in that? I don’t know what we’ll do when we have kids because I have extremely high expectations for Easter egg hunts. If you’re not running up a mountain, getting on your hands and knees in the dirt, and occasionally finding eggs so well hidden that they’re from last year, well, you’re just not really living.
I guess we’ll just have to make this ham a tradition to try to console me in my adult years of not getting to run through the woods looking for eggs. The sweet tang of the pineapple mixed with the mustard play beautifully off of the salty, smokey ham while the fresh thyme finishes it all off perfectly. And oh man is it easy. Serve it with some wilted spinach and freshly made 3 grain bread (or 2 grain in our case because apparently our poppy seeds expired 8 years ago) from the bread machine, and a beautiful dinner is served with minimal fuss.
Glazed Ham with Pineapple Mustard Sauce
The sauce, without the thyme, can be made and refrigerated one day in advance.
Adapted from Epicurious
Vegetable oil for greasing pan
1.5 lb piece cooked smoked ham
1 cup unsweetened pineapple juice (maybe more, maybe less depending on size of roasting pan)
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
salt, to taste
black pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
Sprigs of fresh thyme, for garnish
Put a rack in the middle of your oven and preheat oven to 325°F. Oil a large roasting pan.
Combine the sugar and remaining 3/4 cups pineapple juice in a small heavy saucepan and gently boil, stirring occasionally, until reduced, about 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer the pineapple syrup to a bowl and cool 5 minutes. Whisk in the mustard, salt, and pepper, then pour 1/4 cup into a small bowl and stir in the thyme. Reserve the remaining mustard mixture for serving.
Put the ham, cut side down, in a small roasting pan. Pour enough pineapple juice so that the bottom of the ham is sitting in the juice. Brush the ham with thyme mustard mixture, then bake for 15 minutes (or 10 minutes for every pound of ham), basting with remaining thyme mustard mixture halfway through. Serve ham with reserved mustard mixture on the side.