I haven’t done a lot of cooking the past few weeks, since it has been down to crunch-time getting Fat Girl Food ready for production. Yesterday, I was sick of fast food, not to mention exhausted, so I decided to bake a ham.
I know, this is totally a dish usually saved up for ‘big’ holiday celebrations, but it’s a stand-by for me when ham is cheap ($0.77/lb? Yes please!). What’s not to love about it? Stick a probe thermometer in it and put it in a slow oven for the day. Besides, it’s all about the gingersnap crust, which takes 5 minutes of work at the very end of the process. This all adds up to copious amounts of easy, delicious food (leftovers ::mmm::).
Unless you are really lazy, like me, in which case the crusting process will become a comedy of errors. When you are even more tired/cranky/hungry than when you stuck the ham in the oven 6 hours earlier.
You see, my ham (called This Little Piggy Drank Jack and found in Fat Girl Food, the cookbook) is supposed to have a crust of brown mustard, brown sugar, Jack Daniels®, and gingersnap cookie crumbs. Last night it did not.
My brown sugar canister, the box of gingersnaps that failed me, my recycled-spray-butter spritz bottle of not-Jack, and the most divine ham that wasn’t supposed to go down like this.
Everything was fine up to the crust-application-process. I did not have my wits about me – I had been crocheting my nephew’s Christmas present most of the day. Which means I didn’t prep any of my crust ingredients. I didn’t even check to make sure I had the ingredients. Yeah, you can see where this is going.
I removed the outer skin of the ham and trimmed away most of the fat as usual, no problems. Then I go to paint brown mustard on it…to find that someone put the empty bottle back in the fridge instead of throwing it away. Ok, whatever, I’ll use this honey mustard. ::squeeze:: Crap! There was only 1 squeeze (a highly precise technical culinary term) of mustard – a third as much as I needed to coat this bad boy. Then I discovered that, of the 5 bottles of non-plain-yellow-stuff mustard in my fridge, I had a grand total of 1.38436 squeezes. Great. So French’s® came to the rescue, even though it’s not supposed to be regular mustard.
So I coated the ham in mustard and sand-castled as much brown sugar as I could manage onto it. Then it was time to spritz with Jack so that the sugar would be just moist enough to act like glue (but not so much that it would slide off the ham). Except we had no Jack. None.
My husband and I pondered what to use instead – we have pretty much every other kind of booze up on the shelf. Papaya schnapps? Hubby said yay, I said ew. Pumpkin spice liqueur? I said yay, hubby said ew. Finally we settled on dark rum, figuring that the spiciness of the dark brown sugar had a lot of notes in common with the spicy rum, and that we really didn’t care that much since we were only using about 1 tbsp. Spritzing occured without any shenanigans, and things began to look up for this poor little ham-of-afterthought.
So crispy, so juicy, so Fat Girl…
Now, the gingersnap cookie crumbs are the whole point of this crust. They are flavorful, intense, and harden just the right amount to form the crust of your dreams. I know what you’re thinking – she’s out of gingersnaps, too. But no; I know I have gingersnaps, sitting right there on the pantry shelf. Already having those gingersnaps was a key factor in deciding to make ham. I pulled out my perfect, pristine, unopened box of glorious gingery crunch. I slid my fingers under the flaps; I tugged on the poofed-up plastic bag inside the box.
And the world’s most chef-feared smell bowled me over – rancid oil! Yes, I now had no gingersnaps for my frickin’ gingersnap ham. I began to feel a strong pout coming on.
So my husband and I wandered around the pantries* like we were doing the most confusing scavenger hunt ever, where neither of us had seen the list but assumed the other had – holding up an item and calling out its name in a bewildered, inquiring tone, only to have the other glance up and grimace. Doritos? Melba toast? Wheat thins? What can I crumbify?
Ryan wondered out loud, “What about ground pecans?”
I was a little reluctant at first. “With all the brown sugar, wouldn’t that end up really sticky bun-y?”
Choirs of angels began singing as we locked eyes across the house, mumbling simultaneously, “Yes. Yes, it would.”
A sticky-bun half ham can make any day better.
And that, boys and girls, is why you should always check that you have the necessary ingredients before cooking. And also why you should never be afraid to make do with what you have on hand.
*Yes, I said pantries. I have a smallish pantry in my kitchen and I’ve commandeered a large chunk of the garage for my big pantry. Why? Because I’m a fat girl AND I’m LDS. That’s double-reinforced food hording culture; I’ve got food storage game.