The Moment You've (I've) Been Waiting For: Holiday Ham Party!
home movies tuesday!
Hello and welcome to Home Movies Tuesday! If you’ve found your way over by some miracle but are not yet subscribed, here, let me help you with that:
HOLIDAY HAM PARTY season is upon us and we here at Home Movies mitigated our Thanksgiving-less guilt by throwing you a Holiday Ham Party, in hopes that this video inspires you to throw your own. It’s easy, it’s fun, it’s holiday agnostic (we filmed this on Halloween). If I were a different person I would be into the idea of this for New Years celebration, but I famously hate NYE (the years most anxious holiday? Pass!!!).
If you’re less of a watcher and more of a reader, I present to you the most important details on what to have at your holiday ham party:
It goes without saying that a ham party can not exist without one. “What if I don’t eat ham?” questions will not be entertained. Not today, not for this party.
Ham, in this context, is the cured, smoked and fully cooked variety. When purchasing, your options are typically bone-in/boneless, spiral cut or uncut, whole or half. For me, I’m bone-in and uncut (there’s a joke in here somewhere but I won’t make it), whole or half depending on what’s available and what size the hams are (some half hams are the same size as a whole ham, depending on its provenance). If you don’t have a butcher that carries ham or the stores aren’t stocking them, there are some excellent resources on the world wide web. My favorites (for ham and other meats) are Snake River Farm, Heritage Foods and Porter Road. Home Place Pastures is also wonderful.
If your ham arrives frozen (as many will), allow 2 days for it to defrost– at least 8 hours at room temperature (in the sink) and then the rest of the time in the fridge.
For this particular event, I was only able to get ½ of a very large ham, which was fine since it was almost 14 pounds and I was only expecting around 40 people. I did run out of ham, for what it’s worth.
While the ham arrives already perfect without having to do anything (part of the charm!), I do advocate for the whole scoring/rubbing/roasting thing. This does a few things: Makes you feel like you contributed to the ham, makes the house smell amazing, does actually make the ham more delicious, gives you a fantastic sauce for dipping, not unlike a French Dip.
HOW TO SERVE: On a cutting board. This is the centerpiece. The birthday girl. The ring everyone came to kiss. Make sure it has a prominent place– I carve mine on a cutting board on my kitchen island, surrounded by loved ones* (*condiments). I slice enough ham to fill a platter so I can dress with the sauce, then leave the remaining ham on the cutting board to return to periodically to refill the platter. Nobody but you or a delegated attendee is allowed to slice the ham. Let it be known.
Soft, pillowy, uncomplicated rolls, a landing pad for which to support thin slices of ham and a spiral squeeze of mustard. They should be small and preferably already portioned and split. Brioche rolls, King’s Hawaiian, unbranded Potato Rolls are a few options. [I doubt Martin’s will be hurting from the sales I’m not giving them, but it makes me feel better to simply not support people who support people I don’t support!]
HOW TO SERVE: Near the ham. Divide between two large bowls or platters, rolls removed from their packaging, separated for easy selection, stacked delicately on top of each other in a cute pile.
Mustard, what can I say that hasn’t already been said. I love it. I love many types, I love many kinds. Bottled, tubed, jarred. Spicy, yellow, whole grain, dijon. Inject it all into my veins. According to my own research, mustard has a ridiculously long shelf life, so the more the merrier here, doesn’t really matter how old it is, probably. In fact, throw a party with lots of mustard enough times in a row and people will start gifting you mustards from around the world and it will become “your thing,” and you’ll always have at least 8 mustards in your fridge at all times and you’ll never have to buy mustard again. Notably absent from my collection: Honey Mustard (an abomination).
HOW TO SERVE: Near the ham. The mustard in jars and tubes can be served as-is with small spoons or knives if you have them. Any mustards in squeeze bottles should be decanted into tiny bowls or jars to mirror the other mustards in jars. A classy move.
Much like mustard, there must be a ridiculous number of pickles, both in assortment and quantity. I say this as someone who goes through a jar a week, just from personal use. Cornichon and dill pickle spears for snacking and dill pickles sliced into coins for the sandwiches. Other pickled items that should feel welcome: thinly sliced pickled jalapenos, pepperoncini, various types of kimchi and onions. Notably absent from my collection: bread and butter pickles (disgusting, actually).
THE EXTRA CREDIT
This is my favorite section, and a place where I feel like you can really go wild. For me, it’s thinly sliced yellow onion and softened butter that really make my ham sing. I’ve toyed with the idea of a hot honey or hot honey butter but have never successfully remembered to do either. For you, it might be honey mustard and bread and butter pickles (if so, don’t invite me).
HOW TO SERVE: Near the ham. Preferably in small tiny cute bowls and plates. Visual abundance!
THE CHIPS AND DIP
Every party needs a creamy dip, and I like it especially for a Holiday Ham Party since it can double as a condiment for the ham, if you’re so inclined. This year, as mentioned in yesterday’s newsletter, I have nothing to prove except my allegiance to Lipton’s Recipe Secrets’ (Onion) as the perfect food (for the record, not a very good secret).
But if you want to make your own dip from scratch, “good for you,” as they say. This recipe will forever be the favorite of anyone who I serve it to and I can’t recommend it enough.
The chips should be potato (unflavored) and there should also be an assortment of cleverly sliced and cut raw vegetables such as radish, fennel, celery and cucumber. I know, vegetables are not “chips,” but here they are being used in a similar capacity (crunchy snacking things to dip into dip), give me a break.
HOW TO SERVE: Away from the ham. At least two bowls each of chips and dip, preferably at opposite ends of the table, with various vegetables somewhere between. Again, you want to avoid clustering, and you know when people see those cucumber slices, THEY’RE GONNA CLUSTER!
I would rather die than make everyone an individual cocktail at a party of this size, so for me it’s got to be a giant batch of punch. I don’t own a punch bowl so I always use a stock pot or dutch oven to house my libation (sorry, I promise to never use that word again, had to try it on, doesn’t fit). I advocate for any classic-ish cocktail with a limited number of ingredients that won’t suffer from being made in a large quantity, and while I’m sure someone more familiar with the complexities of cocktail making would disagree, to me, a New York Sour fits the bill. This year in a shocking Martha-y turn of events, I made a giant festive red wine ice ring which felt not too annoying and just the right amount of festive.
Other good cocktails I’ve made include the Midori Sour (bring it back, you cowards), a 50/50 Martini and, for old times sake, “A Negroni.”
HOW TO SERVE: Away from the ham. In a giant bowl, stock pot or dutch oven with a ladle, garnish like sliced citrus on a plate on the side, next to a bucket or bowl of ice and some (preferably compostable) cups. If you find yourself roaming the aisles of a Home Goods, you could also pick up one of these.
A SPECIAL THANK YOU to Maker’s Mark for sponsoring this week’s video and supplying us with all the Maker’s 46 we could responsibly consume. It’s everything you love about Maker’s Mark, with a bit more caramel, a bit more vanilla and a longer finish (thanks to those seared French Oak barrels for aging!). If you’d like to make your own New York Sour for a crowd, click HERE to shop.
Holiday Ham with Many Mustards
Serves 15–20 with leftovers, 30–40 as a snack ham
The difference between having a ham for dinner and a ham party is in the number of condiments and amount of fun you could possibly have. Promise everyone heavy snacks and they’ll come appropriately hungry and pleasantly surprised when they see a giant ham and fourteen types of pickles. As a reminder, hams are sold already cured, smoked and cooked through– the ham could be slipped out of its plastic jacket, sliced and served, if you wanted. That said, to score a ham, season it to your liking (fennel seed and chili flake for me, thank you), roast it until the outside is crisp, fat rendered and juices running, is a transcendent experience.
For the Ham:
1 13–16 pound un-spiraled bone-in ham (half or whole) Snake River Farm, Heritage Foods and Porter Road are great resources
¼ cup whole fennel seeds
2 tablespoons black peppercorns
2 tablespoons crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 cups cilantro or parsley, tender leaves and stems, finely chopped (optional)
For the Serving:
Rolls: Soft, tiny ones, already split
Mustards: Yellow, whole grain, dijon, spicy, brown, in a jar, in a tube, etc.
Pickles: Kosher dill spears, whole kosher dill thinly sliced, cornichons
Other pickled things: Pickled jalapeño, sauerkraut, kimchi, pickled onions
Thinly sliced yellow onion
Softened butter, salted or unsalted
Several bags of salted potato chips (no flavors)
A creamy dip. Lipton’s French Onion is tough to improve upon, but The Dip (Labne Dip with Sizzled Scallion and Chili from Nothing Fancy) is also a top choice.
Crunchy vegetables: Radish, fennel, turnip, cucumber
1. Preheat the oven to 325°. Remove your ham from any plastic or netting and place in a large baking dish (if 9x13 is the largest you have, that’s fine…if the ham is too large for that, use a rimmed baking sheet).
2. Using a small, sharp knife, make tiny (about ½” deep) incisions across the surface of the ham, about ½” apart. You can stop here, or go back and make a crosshatch pattern with more incisions. No wrong choices here, but I do advise some scoring to allow the bits to crisp up and the spices to get into the nooks and crannies.
3. Combine fennel seed, peppercorns and chili flake in a blender, spice grinder or mortar and pestle and blend, pulse or pound the spices until they’re coarsely ground. Transfer to a small bowl and add kosher salt and brown sugar, mixing to blend*.
*This particular blend of salt, sugar, fennel and chili is also excellent for a rub on roast chicken, pork chops or pork shoulder, so if you’re going to plug an appliance in to make this, consider making a larger batch and saving for something down the road.
4. Rub the spice mixture all over the ham, getting into the incisions the best you can (they will still be pretty tight before the ham goes into the oven, but do your best). Depending on size of your baking dish and size of your ham, pour ½ cup to 1 cup water in the bottom of your baking dish (this is to create a sauce at the end and prevent any sugar or spices from burning).
5. Place in the oven uncovered and bake, basting three or four times with a baster or a spoon, until the outside of the ham is caramelized, deeply (deeply) browned (if it’s not that brown, please keep it in the oven till it is!) and there’s a delicious looking sauce on the bottom, 3–4 hours.
6. Remove ham from the oven and let it cool slightly before transferring it to a cutting board to slice.
7. For the sauce, pour the liquid from the baking dish into a medium bowl and add cilantro, stirring to combine. You can season this with a spoonful of mustard or splash of apple cider vinegar, but I think it’s perfect as-is (especially with all that mustard on the side).
8. Serve your ham with all of the accouterments to all of your friends.
New York Sour Punch
Serves 35 (can be scaled up or down to serve more/less)
The New York Sour is one of my favorite classic cocktails. It’s tart, refreshing, easy to drink and easier to make. Typically made one at a time to preserve the classy and festive red wine float, I would simply never make one cocktail at a time, so punch is my preference for large gatherings. For the red wine ice, pick something you’d want to drink, but nothing too pricey– you’re diluting it with water and freezing it, so a lot of the nuance of a more “special” bottle will be sacrificed.
For the Red Wine Ice:
1 cup dry red wine, nothing too precious or pricey
2 cups water
½ lemon, thinly sliced
For the Cocktail and Serving:
½ cup honey
½ cup sugar
1 cup water
5 cups Maker's Mark 46®
2 ½ cups fresh lemon juice
4 12 ounce cans seltzer, plus more if you like
Lemon slices and ice, for serving
For the Red Wine Ice:
1. Combine red wine and water in a 9” cake pan or something similarly sized. Add lemon slices and freeze until solid, at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.
For the Cocktail and Serving:
1. Combine honey, sugar and 1 cup water in a small pot. Bring to a simmer and remove from heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar and cool completely.
2. Combine Maker's Mark 46®, lemon juice and honey syrup in a large bowl, pot or punch vessel. When you’re ready to serve, add red wine ice float and top with seltzer.
3. Serve ladled over a cup of ice, garnished with more lemon slices, adding more seltzer if you like.
DO AHEAD: The red wine ice can be made several weeks in advance, kept frozen. The cocktail sans ice ring and seltzer can be made 2 days ahead, kept refrigerated. The honey syrup can be made several weeks in advance, kept refrigerated.
A WORD ON SERVING UTENSILS, COMPOSTING AND RECYCLING:
The beauty of a ham party is nobody needs an individual fork or knife (or spoon for that matter). You do, however, need napkins, cups and plates. For this, I always buy compostable and/or recycled items. It’s a small gesture but feels like the lesser of two evils (using single-use plastic or purchasing and hand washing a hundred small plates).
As a reminder, even things labeled “compostable” don’t compost properly if you don’t compost them properly (i.e. putting a compostable cup in the recycling bin isn’t really all that helpful) and if one more person tells me recycling in New York is a lie I’m going to combust. I don’t want to hear it, I’ll still recycle, please let me separate my plastics and glass from my cardboard in PEACE. My friend Cassie writes a great newsletter on composting, you can read it here.