To answer your first question, yes, we glazed a ham with beer. Porter is a remarkable beer that’s perfectly bitter with chocolate and coffee undertones and hints of clove, cinnamon and nutmeg–flavors that go hand in hand with Christmas. The slightly bitter porter contrasts deliciously with the saltiness of the ham and the sweet honey that is used to finish the glaze.
And then, to make a good thing even better, as the ham bakes the excess glaze mingles with the onions in the bottom of the roasting dish. Since it reduces further in the hot oven, what you are left with is a porter syrup infused with the flavor of roasted onions. You should drizzle this over your sliced ham. I love this ham so much my husband swore I’d tear a rotator cuff patting myself of the back.
To make enough glaze for a 5-10 pound ham start with:
4 bottles (48oz.) of Porter
1/2 inch of fresh, peeled ginger, sliced
1 cinnamon stick
Pour all into a sauce pan and put on a low flame to reduce. You want to reduce it down by 2/3, so the porter gets nice and thick. This is really going to turn bitter as it cooks down. Fear not! Once it gets to the desired consistency add:
3/4 c. Honey
Whisk in the honey then pass the sauce through a strainer to remove the ginger and cinnamon.
While the glaze is reducing you can prep the ham:
Pre-heat the oven to 350. We used a 5lb. fully cooked ham cut in half the long way that we studded with cloves. To stud the ham, make a series of 1/2-inch deep slices running the perimeter of the ham, then repeat at a 90 degree angle to make a grid. At the intersection of the two lines, push in a whole clove.
Studding with cloves is a very traditional way of serving ham. An old chef said it stemmed from the days pre-refrigeration when hams had to be a lot more smokey and salty to preserve them. Clove is a natural anesthetic that numbs the mouth slightly, making such a roast infinitely more palatable. Now days, we still stud it with clove because it tastes good and is pretty!
Now, on to the roasting! Rough chop 2 onions and 3 cloves of garlic. Toss them lightly in oil and add 2 bay leaves. Spread this out on the bottom of a roasting pan. Then put your two hams on top of the onions. We used a rack to keep the meat from directly touching the onions, but if you don’t have a cooking rack don’t worry about it. Pour half the glaze over each Ham and put into the oven for about 20 minutes a pound, in this case we put it in for almost two hours.
This next part is VERY important. If you want to get a nice glaze on your ham, re-glazed it EVERY 15 MINUTES! That is, every 15 minutes gently pour out all the liquid from the bottom of the roasting pan (or you can use a turkey baster) and re-pour it over the ham. When you are done, remember to strain out the liquid from the bottom of the pan.