April 22, 2011

Ham-No Chemicals Added

Here is the alternative for the chemical saturated ham you get in the store.  

You can go to the butcher and get a ham that is SMOKED BUT NOT BRINED. 

Or try to find an uncooked,bone-in, fresh ham.  

Bon Appetite!



  • 2 cups kosher salt
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup fennel seeds
  • 1/2 cup mustard seeds
  • 2 tablespoons crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 bunch rosemary
  • 20 garlic cloves, or garlic bulbs, cut in 1/2 equatorially
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 4 ribs celery, coarsely chopped
  • 2 gallons water
  • 1 (6 to 8-pound) bone-in fresh ham


  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed
  • Large pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • 2 cups chicken stock


    • 1 cup finely packed brown sugar
    • 2 tablespoons flour
    • 1/2 teaspoon dried mustard or 1/2 teaspoon prepared mustard
    • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 3 tablespoons dry sherry (optional)
    • 3 tablespoons vinegar
    • 3 tablespoons water


  1. Combine 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar, 2 tablespoons flour, 1/2 teaspoons dry or prepared mustard, 1/8 tsp cinnamon and 3 tablespoons dry sherry (optional), 3 tablespoons vinegar and 3 tablespoons water.
  2. Mix well and spread on ham, before putting it into oven.

    To brine the pork:
    Combine all of the ingredients in a large container. Submerse the ham in the brine and let it hang out for 3 days in the refrigerator.

    To cook the pork:
    Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

    Remove the ham from the brine, pat dry and make slices in the skin to create a diagonal cross-hatch pattern.

    To make the paste:
    In a food processor, combine the  garlic, crushed red pepper, salt, to taste, and about 1/2 cup of olive oil. Massage this mixture generously all over the outside of the ham.

    Place ham in a roasting pan.  Cook at 450.
    Check the pork in about 30 minutes, the skin should be getting brown and crispy.
    At this point, remove the ham from the oven and turn over, baste with any leftover rolive oil paste.  Roast for another 30 minutes.

    Remove the ham from the oven after the first hour.
    Aadd the chicken stock to the bottom of the pan to keep things really moist and juicy.
    Reduce the heat in the oven to 350 degrees F and roast for another hour.

    To make the glaze:
    While the ham is cooking, combine glaze ingredients in a small bowl. Remove the ham from the oven and brush it, generously.
    Return the ham to the oven and roast it for about 30 minutes. Flip it over and brush again with glaze (really slather it on the pork).
    Roast until it reaches an internal temperature of 150 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer.

    Remove the ham from the oven, to a cutting board, tent it with aluminum foil and let it rest for at least 20 to 30 minutes before slicing.

    Crouque Monsieur

    Oh wow. I just tasted one of the best things ever. In preparation for Leave a Happy Plate's party for letter "G",  I was going to post my Croque Monsieur recipe that showcases the flavor of  Gruyere cheese. Well to be quite honest,  I had posted that recipe a while ago when I was still using pictures from Google images. I've been trying to go back and re-create my recipes, updating them,  and using my own photos. This was one of those days. So I made Croque Monsieur for my lunch today.   I made it much differently then I would typically make it. I wanted to try it out for a brunch  event I would be catering in the spring.  It was amazing.   What a bright spot in my otherwise boring  cleaning day. 
    I can see that  interacting with all of you bloggers via Facebook has been a great GOOD for me. I've been going back, updating my recipes and taking pictures of them and this has enabled me to have a bit more excitement and passion in the kitchen. So with all of that said… Here's my updated version of croque Monsieur,  the French version of grilled ham and cheese. But first a few bits of information: 
    A croque-monsieur is a warm and bubbly grilled ham and cheese sandwich. It originated in French cafés and bars as a quick snack. Typically, Emmental or Gruyère cheese is used. these are SWISS cheeses. 
    Interesting facts:
    The name is based on the verb croquer ("to crunch") and the word monsieur ("mister"). The sandwich's first recorded appearance on a Parisian café menu was in 1910. Its earliest mention in literature appears to be in volume two of Proust's In Search of Lost Time in 1918.
    A croque-monsieur served with a fried egg or poached egg on top is known as a croque-madame (or in parts of Normandy a croque-à-cheval). The noted French chef Jacques Pepin also makes a version using chicken instead of ham, which he demonstrated in the "Our Favorite Sandwiches"episode on the PBS series (and its coordinating cookbook of the same title) Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home in which he worked with Julia Child. Many dictionaries attribute the name to the egg resembling an old fashioned woman's hat. The name croque-mademoiselle is associated with many different sandwiches, from diet recipes to desserts.A ham and cheese sandwich snack, very similar to the croque-monsieur, is called a tosti in the Netherlands, and toast (pronounced "tost") in Italy. A version of this sandwich in Spain replaces the ham with sobrassada, a soft sausage from the Balearic Islands that can be easily spread.
    Versions of the sandwich with substitutions or additional ingredients are given names modeled on the original croque-monsieur, for example:
    • croque provençal (with tomato)
    • croque auvergnat (with bleu d'Auvergne cheese)
    • croque gagnet (with Gouda cheese and andouille sausage)
    • croque norvégien (with smoked salmon instead of ham)
    • croque tartiflette (with sliced potatoes and Reblochon cheese)
    • croque bolognese / croque Boum-Boum (with Bolognese sauce)
    • croque señor (with tomato salsa)
    • croque Hawaiian (with a slice of pineapple)
    • the "Croque McDo" sandwich at McDonald's locations in France
    Here is the recipe for the traditional version, but with MY TWIST!
    Ingredients for 6 Servings
    •  8 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
    • 1 1/2  tablespoons all-purpose flour
    • 1 cups milk
    • salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    • Freshly grated nutmeg
    • 2 1/2cups Gruyere, grated and divided
    • 12 slices white sandwich bread.
    • Dijon mustard
    • 4 ounces  ham, shaved or chopped
    1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  
    2. Melt the 2 tablespoons of butter over low heat in a small saucepan and add the flour all at once, stirring with a wisk for 2 minutes. This cooks out the floury taste.    
    3. Slowly pour the hot milk into the butter–flour mixture and cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce is thickened.   
    4. Off the heat, add the salt, pepper, nutmeg, 1 cup grated Gruyere, and set aside.  
    5. Get out your favorite 12 welled muffin pan.  I use a Demarle muffin FLEXIPAN.  If you don't have one,  then spray with a non-stick cooking pray.    
    6. Melt remaining  6 tablespoons of butter and set aside. 
    7. Take each slice of bread, flatten it a bit and using a biscuit cutter or other round cutter, make 2 cuts to form to round slices of bread.  You will have 24 pieces all together. 
    8. Lightly brush half the  breads with melted butter, put butter side down into wells of muffin pan.   
    9. Layer ham, then 1 cup of the cheese, dividing it up between the 12 wells.   
    10. Spread mustard on top of remaining bread slices, and place on top of cheese, mustard side down. 
    11.  Brush tops with remaining melted butter. Heat in the oven about 5 minutes until the tops are toasted. Remove from oven.  
    12. Cool five minutes. 
    13. Lift each "muffin" out onto a plate, STACKING 2 on top of each other.  
    14. Ladle with WARM cheese sauce, divided among 6 plates.  
    15.  Garnish with leftover Gruyere and grated nutmeg.    
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