Easter Ham and Nana’s Famous Ham Gravy
Finally back with another blog post! And this one is exciting. My very first attempt at Easter Ham and Nana’s Famous Ham Gravy—and if I can say so myself, it was awesome.
In my family, my Nana is the hero of holidays. No one knows how to pick out the most perfect gifts, wrap presents that look like they belong in Better Homes and Gardens, and crank out fresh homemade food for a crowd with absolute ease like my Nana can. In the last few years my Nana has graciously passed the holiday cooking baton on to me and let me tell you—this is a tough act to follow! I have spent my entire life peaking over her stove and gleaning from her wisdom, so it’s truly an honor to mimic some of her recipes like I did this Easter.
Ham and ham gravy are a must for Easter dinner in the Gemmell household. But I have found over the years, that most people don’t know that Ham Gravy exists—let alone eat it! It’s simple really, you collect the meat drippings, slowly brown them off in tiny batches, and then thicken with a slurry. (We will talk more about this later.) The final result is sweet and salty gravy that wraps all of Easter dinner in a velvety-ultra-yummy-addictive hug. Pair all this happiness with a Ham that has a punchy mustard and citrus glaze and you will be your own families holiday hero!
For this recipe I made a worry free ham stock to add to my drippings so I could ensure abundant gravy was available. But before I say anything else, let’s get cooking!
What You Will Need:
For the Stock:
2 Ham Hocks
2 Bay Leaves
2 Tbs Whole Grain Mustard
1/4 cup Sugar
1 Tbs Salt
1 Tbs Black Pepper
For the Ham:
12 - 15 pound Bone in Ham
For the Ham Glaze:
1.5 cups Brown Sugar
1/4 cup Grainy Brown Mustard
1/8 cup Whole Grain Mustard
4 Tbs Apple Cider Vinegar
1 tsp Cinnamon
2 tsp Paprika
2 tsp Chili Powder
1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper
5 medium Oranges, zested and juiced
3 Cloves Garlic minced
For The Gravy:
1 cup Flour
2.5 cups COLD Water
The day before Easter I grabbed my ham and ham hocks from the local butcher my Nana uses. First on the list is making the Ham Stock, but since we are using the crockpot it’s a worry free operation. I place all the ingredients for the stock in my crockpot and then pour in enough water to almost completely submerge the hocks. I place the crockpot on HIGH and walk away for 8 hours. After 8 hours I turned it to LOW and let it work for another 8 hours. Now my stock is finished, and so delicious I could not help myself but steal a small bowl and eat it just like that! (Not for nothing, this stock would be the perfect backbone to the most amazing split pea, lentil, or potato soup.) Finally, place the stock in the refrigerator over night and step one if complete.
Easter Day is here and its time to get that Ham looking all beautiful for the party. Place ham out at room temperature for 1 hour before baking to ensure even cooking. Preheat your oven to 325° and use a small paring knife to score your ham in a diamond pattern. Scoring not only looks cool, but it helps all the flavors of the glaze to permeate the meat.
Now make your glaze! In a large sauce pan over medium-low heat add all the glaze ingredients. My favorite thing about this glaze is the balance of sweet flavors from the oranges, orange zest, and sugar and the punch of heat from all the peppers and mustard. It gives the ham a slightly non-traditional flavor—but let’s face it, sometimes the classics could use a little revamping. Allow the glaze to reach a gentle boil and continuously stir for 10 minutes or until it has thickened and can smoothly drip from the spoon.
Place ham in a large baking dish, or roasting pan, and brush half of the glaze over the top. Pour the ham stock into the bottom of the pan until it’s about an inch deep. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for an hour and a half or 10 minutes a pound.
Take the ham out of the oven and remove the foil. Raise the oven temperature to 375° and brush half of the remaining glaze on the ham. When the oven is up to temperature, return the ham, uncovered, and bake for 15 minutes. Brush the remaining glaze over the ham and cook for another 15 minutes. Now open that oven up and admire your handwork!
Buckle up it’s gravy time! Take the ham out of the roasting pan, place on a large platter, and tightly cover with foil. I prefer to send my drippings through a strainer or cheese cloth to remove the mustard grains—but the gravy would be equally delicious without this step.
Here is where is will need you to have a little patience because explaining the gravy process is definitely easier to watch then it is to write in words. But I will do my best because it’s 100% worth it.
Here is what you will need:
-Large stainless steal pan to brown the drippings in.
-Large sauce pan to pour completed drippings into as you go.
-Pitcher of water.
Let’s begin, place the large sauce pan on high heat and ladle in one spoonful of drippings. This process is all about taking your time, because if you pour too much of the liquid in at once it won’t reduce or brown properly. But trust me, the depth of flavor that comes from browning the drippings is what makes this gravy so amazing. Once the dripping are in the pan the change happens quickly— watch as your drippings boil, reduce, and turn from light brown to a dark caramel.
At the beginning:
When it’s time to pour in the water:
As soon as the drippings have changed color pour in a heavy splash of water (about half a cup) from the pitcher and use your whisk to incorporate. Pour these finished drippings into your empty sauce pan and repeat this same process until all drippings have been browned.
Now pour all the browned gravy back onto the stove top and bring up to medium heat. In a medium bowl make the slurry. Make sure you use COLD water with the flour or you will accidentally create dumplings and that is not what we want for today! Once your slurry is runny and very smooth, slowly whisk into the gravy. I add in half the slurry to start and cook for 10 minutes checking for desired consistency—then I add more until I have a smooth velvety texture. Be sure to whisk frequently throughout the cooking process. Taste test gravy and add more salt or a pinch of sugar. And you did it! Go impress your family with a flavor packed centerpiece Easter Ham and the best-dang-gravy that would make my Nana proud. Enjoy!
Sidenote: It wouldn’t be Easter if Poppop didn’t do the honors of carving the ham.