Ever whip up a dish that’s so madly yummy you wanna feed it to everyone you’ve ever met? This is one of those.
Yup, Easter’s already hopped on by, but who says that’s the only ham-appropriate occasion? We’d unexpectedly received a smoked, bone-in ten-pounder as lagniappe for being loyal grocery store shoppers, and while we were old hands at prepping its hard, salty country cousin, we’d never actually baked and glazed a city ham. We’ve long been inspired by Aretha Franklin’s ginger ale doused Queen of Soul Ham and have heard tell of a Coca-Cola ham or two, though have never had the pleasure of sampling one.
A tad loath to leave the house and brave the holiday supermarket fray, we took stock of what was on hand. Diet drinks weren’t gonna cut the mustard, husband would flip if we drained his precious Pepsi stash, tonic was a tad depressing, then lo and behold — Cheerwine! We’d hauled back cases of the distinctive cherry soda when last we hit the Tarheel State, and had been holding out for a special occasion to dip into the stash.
Sure, it wasn’t the cane sugar based Retro Cheerwine (which we can’t find to save our lives!), but it kept the ham miraculously moist through the initial bake and cooked down into a luscious, fruity glaze, which balanced quite well with the ham’s salt, a kiss of bourbon, a quick blaze of mustard and the deep, dark tang of pomegranate molasses.
Can’t find Cheerwine in your neck of the woods? Swap in a full-sugar dark cherry soda like Stewart’s Black Cherry Wishniak, Boylan’s Black Cherry or Jones’ Cherry. Cheers!
1 bone-in ham
3-4 cans of non-diet Cheerwine
1 cup bourbon
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
Pomegranate molasses (available at Middle Eastern or specialty grocers)
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/2 tablespoon mustard seeds
Preheat oven to 350F
Line a roasting pan with enough aluminum foil to make a pouch that can fully envelop your ham.
Rinse the ham in cold water and place it fat side up in the lined pan. Mix together 2-3 can of Cheerwine and 1/2 cup of the bourbon and pour it over the ham. Close the foil and cook it for 25 minutes per pound or until it reaches an internal temperature of 150F. If the ham seems to be drying out, pour on more Cheerwine and bourbon.
While the ham is reaching the end of the cooking process, in a pan on the stovetop, stir together 1/2 cup bourbon, 1/3-1/2 cup of Cheerwine, brown sugar, a dash of pomegranate molasses, mustard and mustard seeds and cook over medium flame until it forms a thick syrup.
Remove the ham from the oven, unwrap, drain off as much liquid as possible, remove any skin, and score the fat in diagonals to form a diamond pattern. Starting at the top, brush on glaze so it seeps into the channels and return, uncovered, to the oven. Bake for another 20-30 minutes, or until the glaze hardens. If desired, raise the temperature to 450F for the last ten minutes.
Remove the ham from the oven, let stand for at least five minutes, and serve in slices with additional glaze on the side.
Save the bone to flavor greens and soups.
Cheerwine Ham was originally published on Slashfood.