The Tastiest Ham Glaze Ever Is Just 3 Simple Ingredients Away

Sliced glazed ham on cutting board
Sliced glazed ham on cutting board - Candice Bell/Shutterstock

Plenty of people find a glazed ham to be a perfect centerpiece, be it for a special occasion or an average weeknight meal (with plenty of leftovers for sandwiches or as a savory addition to cornbread in either case). And while I've always come to the table with high hopes, I've often found it a little lacking. Don't get me wrong, I always appreciate the play between sweet and salty, but it has often felt like a bit of a missed opportunity — like one of those something's-missing-and-I-can't-put-my-finger-on-it situations.

Then, one summer, I began experimenting with glazes for pancetta and Brussels sprouts skewers as an appetizer. Once I landed on this combination of three simple ingredients — balsamic vinegar, honey, and chili — I knew this dressing was destined for bigger things. In particular, much larger pieces of meat. It's an almost too-good-to-be-true balance of flavors for various uses — perfect when drizzled over broiled fish, funky cheeses, and even fresh strawberries. But slather this mixture of punchy, fruity balsamic and sweet, sticky honey — all cut with a spicy powder — over salty, moist slices of pork, and never lose hope in ham again.

Read more: 15 Tips For Making The Best Meatloaf

Why It Works And How To Make It

Balsamic vinegar being poured onto a spoon with barrel
Balsamic vinegar being poured onto a spoon with barrel - Tenzinsherab/Getty Images

Being raised in an Italian family, if someone said "vinegar," it meant only one thing: balsamic. I always loved this liquid in any form, but when it's cooked down with a sweetener of some type — in this case, honey — it entirely transforms into another kind of magic. That barrel-aged product, with its inherently fruity character, deepens into an even more complex version with an almost jammy character, and that sweetness is a perfect counterpoint for the tart vinegar. The result is a balanced, tantalizing glaze.

With the honey-balsamic glaze and the pork itself, you have the makings of a well-balanced flavor profile that features acid, fat, and salt. But I love a dish with a kick, so I introduced a little spice, too.

In terms of ratio, I find a good rule of thumb to be 2 parts honey to 1 part balsamic. When it comes to your spice, start with a ½ teaspoon and take it from there. It's easy to add more to taste. While making a glaze on its own requires cooking this mixture down, you can skip that step here since it'll concentrate naturally as your ham bakes. In this case, you can lather it straight onto the skin of your meat once it is well whisked together. This should be plenty of glaze for a ham about 8-10 pounds in size. If you have some left over, it makes a killer candied bacon.

Variations And Ingredients

Glazed ham with figs and oranges on table with candles
Glazed ham with figs and oranges on table with candles - Gmvozd/Getty Images

This glaze works best with traditional balsamic vinegar — the epitome of slow food. The cheaper stuff is thinner and won't reduce as well into that sticky, caramelized goodness. You can use a number of sweeteners, including standard brown sugar or maple syrup, but here, I love orange blossom or wildflower honey, which add a floral brightness and pair with other ham-friendly accompaniments like figs and citrus.

I use chipotle powder for heat because I appreciate a little smokiness (which pairs well with the oakiness of aged balsamic), but cayenne or chili powder is also excellent. If you have hot honey, you can skip the added spice and simplify to a two-ingredient glaze.

You have an opportunity to customize beyond these core ingredients, too. Cinnamon and ginger play well with this flavor profile, and you can add crushed nuts like pecans to the outside of your ham once you've finished baking, which will cling to the glaze, adding texture and a toastiness (best to use unsalted nuts; your pork is already salty). Orange peel is also a great complement, and you can infuse your glaze by zesting about half an orange over the outside of your ham after baking, too. That said, if you want to stick to nothing more than these three ingredients, you can be sure that when that pork is served, you're in for an unbelievably tasty culinary centerpiece.

Read the original article on Daily Meal