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Chef Stacy believes that cooking from scratch and using the best ingredients are the secrets to preparing delicious and memorable meals. She has created dozens of classes for the home chef and teaches students how to master culinary techniques and recipes in just one session. Read on to see what she's dishing up for The Oakland Press today....

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Ham it Up

With Easter just around the corner, many people are planning their menus for their annual brunch. Because of tradition and the requests (demands) of our families and friends, it can be easy to fall into the same rut every year. It happens at nearly every holiday table; the same dishes making their appearance over, and over, and over. If you're longing for inspiration and ready to put a twist on some of the old standby dishes, look no further. Your Easter table revamp is here!

The Easter table is almost always the background for the ubiquitous and sometimes uninspired ham. Spiral sliced, glazed, and frankly, overdone, the holiday ham is more of an afterthought instead of entree All Star. Consider preparing a fresh ham. Fresh ham is a delicious, sophisticated and original twist on the traditional.

Here is a recipe for a fresh ham which I enjoy making. I hope this brings a smile to the faces of your guests this Sunday. The nice thing about fresh ham is that you can still spice it up to suit your tastes. Simply by changing the herbs and spice combinations, you can serve a holiday staple with new flavor profiles every year.

2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme

2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon

Half of a fresh bone-in ham (6 to 8 pounds), preferably shank end, with skin

Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

To prepare the ham, in a small bowl, combine the thyme and tarragon. Season the ham with salt and pepper. Rub the herb mixture all over the ham and set aside to marinate and come to room temperature, 30 to 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the herb-crusted ham in a roasting pan. Bake approximately 25 minutes per pound, or until the internal temperature reaches 150°F on an instant-read thermometer inserted near the bone, 2 to 21/2 hours. Remove from the oven to a rack. Tent the ham loosely with aluminum foil and let stand until the center of the ham registers 155° to 160°F on the instant-read thermometer, 25 to 30 minutes.

Once the ham has rested, transfer to a cutting board, carve, and serve with your favorite dijon or spiced mustard, or even a sweet glaze which has been thinned with a bit of water or vegetable stock.


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