Ham Salad

People just don’t make ham salad like they used to.

At one time, you’d see it on just about any occasional buffet table, be it wedding, anniversary or funeral, but nowadays it’s all pimento cheese and hummus. Maybe it’s that same room-temperature mayonnaise consideration that keep tuna or chicken salad at bay, or simply a drift away from meat.

Still and all, ham salad is a beautiful option for holiday left-overs, and it’s a good nosh whenever. Three ingredients are essential: a binding agent—it doesn’t have to be mayo; cream cheese will do, too—finely diced or pureed lean ham—and pickle relish. I like a fine consistency with horseradish, mustard and a little grated onion, but, as Rombauer and Co. say, ham salad, “should be a matter of inspiration”.

Here’s an easy one. For a pound of finely-chopped ham, add about a half cup mayo, two tablespoons each of sweet relish and minced onions. Mix well with a teaspoon each of black pepper and dry mustard. It’s better cooled for an hour or so before use.

Mustard Fruit Glaze for Ham

If your ham comes with one of those foil packets of glaze, grab it with a pair of tongs and drop it in the nearest hazardous waste receptacle. Not even Divine would use that gunk (she’d probably use edible glitter). Instead, make your own in a matter of minutes with just a few ingredients you can pick up at the store. This recipe is not only simple, you can modify it to your taste, use as much as you need and refrigerate the rest. It’s good on pork and game roasts, too, but I think it’s a bit heavy for fowl.

For a 15-20 lb. ham, use 1 jar (12 oz.) of apricot, pineapple, peach or cherry preserves, a half cup brown sugar, a mixture of two tablespoons Coleman’s dry mustard and a quarter cup honey, dark corn syrup or molasses and a half stick butter. Mix the mustard and honey/syrup/molasses before adding to other ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk continually until thoroughly mixed. Let ham sit covered at room temperature at least two hours before removing from packaging. Heat oven to 325˚F with the oven rack in the lower third of the oven. Brush half of the glaze on ham, cover with foil and bake at 325 for 10-11 minutes per pound. Increase oven to 425˚, brush ham with remaining glaze and roast uncovered until a brown crust has formed. Remove the ham from the oven and let it rest uncovered for no more than an hour before basting with pan drippings and plating.