It’s almost that time of year. When everyone’s diets go out the window and I completely blow my grocery budget. The holidays. And I don’t know about other parts of the country or world, but in the South, we don’t skimp on the holidays. Everything has full fat butter, and most things have sugar in one way or another. It’s delicious, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Growing up, we normally had Thanksgiving turkey, but we also almost always had a ham at Thanksgiving. Definitely ham at Christmas. And frankly, I like ham better than turkey. It isn’t ever dry, and it normally has a lot more flavor.
Thankfully, my husband also has fond memories of sugar ham, so he doesn’t care if we have that instead of the more traditional turkey. We both have a favorite way for it to be cooked, the way our grandmothers made it. Seeing the crock pot with the ham, with rounds of pineapple and little red cherries, will always remind me of Christmas and my dad’s mom.
I love having ham because it’s also pretty easy to make. All it needs is a few ingredients and to sit in the crockpot for as long as it can, which makes it a pretty hands off meal. I made us one this year earlier in November, and it was a great reminder of the holidays and what is to come. A ham for two people is pretty reasonably priced, and I found one for about ten dollars that lasted us for three meals, a total of six servings. To go with it I made macaroni and cheese and roasted asparagus. I was originally going to do fresh green beans, but the green beans at the store didn’t look good, so I switched last minute to asparagus.
I’ve shown how I cook asparagus before, but I just roasted them at 375 fahrenheit for about twenty minutes. I like to drizzle them with olive oil, salt, and pepper. You could also add garlic and onion powder, or pretty much any other seasonings you would like.
I’ve been using the macaroni and cheese website from The Pioneer Woman for almost ten years at this point, and it has never let me down. I even follow it almost exactly, which doesn’t happen often. Sometimes I don’t include the egg, and it turns out fine. I also like to add a little smoked paprika and a few dashes of hot sauce at the same time as the other spices. It doesn’t make it hot or spicy at all, just gives a really good, almost smoky flavor.
Hams are sold with the fresh meat in the grocery store. They come in multiple sizes, so you kind of have to guess how much you need. I got a pretty small one, and it made about six servings, but if I was cooking for more than two or three people, I would go ahead and get one of the bigger ones. They sell some of them “spiral-sliced,” which I love. It makes it a lot easier to serve, and it means the brown sugar and juices can flavor more of the ham. The one I bought was labelled as a “Picnic Shoulder,” but unfortunately I don’t remember the weight.
Picnic shoulder, or spiral sliced ham
Coca-cola or Dr. Pepper
Place the ham in a crockpot. If it is a really big ham, you may have to slice part of the top off for it to fit. Just work with it until you can fit the whole thing in the crock pot. Sometimes if the lid just won’t seal, I’ll use aluminum foil, then layer a towel over the top for added insulation. Be careful if you do this, as the aluminum foil will get hot.
Pack brown sugar onto the top of the ham, and as far down the sides as you can reach.
Lay pineapple slices around the outside of the ham, using toothpicks to keep them on the sides.
Dot cherries in the middle of each pineapple slice, and in any other gaps you may have, using toothpicks to keep them in place.
Pour 8 – 12 ounces of Coca-cola or Dr. Pepper over the ham.
Cook on low for eight hours, or as long as needed, or on high for 4 – 6 hours. Periodically baste the juices over the ham.