Rob Valencia’s Spiced Ham
Every family’s Thanksgiving table is a little different, and that became even clearer when we asked restaurant people to finish this sentence: It’s not Thanksgiving without my … .
“I grew up in San Antonio, and all of our relatives from Mexico used to come and join us,” says Northside Social pastry chef Rob Valencia. “They always brought a spiced ham glazed with piloncillo—Mexican brown sugar—pineapple, and chilis. Eventually I grew up and realized no one else ate ham and Mexicans don’t celebrate Thanksgiving. But all my cousins did!”
Serves 10 to 15.
1 5-pound precooked, bone-in ham, available at markets like Whole Foods
20 whole cloves
2 cups apple cider
1 pound piloncillo sugar, available at Latin grocery stores (if you can’t find it, you can substitute Muscovado sugar, available at Whole Foods)
2 small dried morita chiles (smoked red jalapenos), or dried chipotle peppers, cut into thin strips
1 tablespoon cinnamon
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) butter
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
Score the ham with a knife, and stud it with the whole cloves. Place the ham in foil-lined pan.
In a medium pot set over medium-high heat, combine the apple cider, piloncillo, chiles, cinnamon, and butter. Bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer. Reduce by half to make a thick glaze, about 30 minutes.
Using a pastry brush, brush a third of the glaze over the ham. Keep the remaining glaze warm. Bake the ham for 1 hour and 15 minutes, basting it every 10 to 15 minutes with the extra glaze. During the last 4 to 5 minutes of baking, turn on the broiler to caramelize the glaze. Take the ham out of the oven and let it sit a few minutes before serving.