Make it fancy without fussing.
By Lisa Readie Mayer
For many families, holiday time is cabin time. It’s an opportunity to gather with our favorite people in our favorite place, and renew the traditions that bind us together. But, whether those traditions include a snowy trek for the perfect tree or an annual pajama-clad screening of “It’s a Wonderful Life,” the ones most imbedded in the fabric of our cabin holiday memories seem to revolve around food. A creamy cup of eggnog, a buttery cookie, homemade cinnamon buns – each is longed for all year, and lovingly savored at holiday time. Dinners, too, should be rightly special – it is the holidays, after all – but not so fussy that they leave the cooks frazzled and unable to partake in the fun. For the main course, forgo turkey and serve ham. It’s much easier to prep – no brining required – and fully cooked, so you just need to heat and eat (and use the grill to free up oven space). Another trick: Plan side dishes that can be served at room temperature, so if that annual marathon Monopoly session goes even longer than expected, you’re not scrambling last-minute to whip potatoes. Here, the ham gets extra flavor from a spicy-sweet pineapple-juice glaze, a kiss of grill smoke, and a side of horseradish sauce. The special-occasion potato salad is dressed up with asparagus, walnuts, blue cheese and the it-vegetable: kale, then tossed with a creamy yogurt-based dressing. And, finally, the ultimate holiday cocktail – champagne – gets gussied up with a splash of pomegranate juice. It’ll definitely be a new tradition.
Pineapple-Glazed Ham with Horseradish Sour Cream
Makes 8 to 10 servings Avoid using a presliced ham for this recipe; it might dry out when heated. HAM: 1 bone-in fully cooked smoked ham, preferably from the butt end, 8-1o lbs GLAZE: 2 tablespoons unsalted butter ½ cup fresh pineapple juice 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar 2 tablespoons packed golden brown sugar ½ teaspoon ground ginger ½ teaspoon Chinese five spice ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper SAUCE: 1½ cups sour cream ¼ cup prepared horseradish 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- Allow the ham to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes to 1 hour before grilling.
- Prepare the grill for indirect cooking over medium-low heat (about 325°F).
- In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the butter and cook until it begins to brown, 2 to 4 minutes. Immediately add the remaining glaze ingredients. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.
- Score the ham in a large crisscross pattern about ½-inch deep on all sides except for the cut side. Place the ham, cut side down, in a large disposable foil pan. Pour the glaze over the ham and into the pan. Cover the ham snugly with aluminum foil, crimping the foil around the rim of the pan. Cook the ham over indirect medium-low heat, with the lid closed, for 1½ hours. Meanwhile, make the sauce.
- In a small nonreactive bowl, whisk the sauce ingredients. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. (The sauce can be made up to a day in advance and refrigerated, covered, until serving time.)
- After 1½ hours of cooking, remove the foil from the ham (but save the foil for later) and quickly spoon some of the glaze over the meat.
- Continue cooking, with the lid closed, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the ham (not touching the bone) registers 120°F, 1 to 1½ hours more, spooning the glaze over the ham every 20 minutes or so. If the glaze gets too dark, cover the ham loosely with the saved aluminum foil for the remainder of the cooking time. Carefully transfer the ham in the pan onto a sheet pan.
- Tent the ham loosely with foil. Let rest for 15 to 30 minutes.
- Cut the ham into thin slices. If desired, drizzle some of the glaze over the slices. Serve the ham warm with the sauce on the side.
Kale and Potato Salad
This is not your average picnic potato salad. Make it ahead so it’s ready when you are. 1 pound petite Yukon Gold potatoes, halved 1/4 cup olive oil, divided 1 shallot, halved and sliced ¾ pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces ¼ cup white balsamic vinegar ¼ cup fat-free, plain Greek yogurt Salt, pepper, and sugar, to taste 7 cups (1-inch pieces) green curly kale (tough ribs and stems removed) ½ cup fresh scallions, chopped ¼ cup chopped walnuts 1 ounce crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
- Preheat oven to 450°F with rack in upper third of oven. Toss potatoes with 1 tablespoon oil, half the shallots, salt and pepper and spread evenly on a baking sheet. Roast for 15 minutes, then add asparagus to baking sheet and roast 10 minutes more, or until potatoes are golden brown and tender.
- To make dressing, puree remaining olive oil, shallot, vinegar and yogurt in a blender or small food processor. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and sugar.
- While the vegetables are cooking, place 1 inch of water in a large pot. Bring to a boil, then add kale; cook for 1 minute or until kale is bright green and lightly wilted, tossing constantly with tongs. Drain excess water. In a large bowl, combine kale with scallions, cooked potatoes, and asparagus, and toss with dressing. Top with walnuts and Gorgonzola.
Pomegranate Champagne Cocktail
For a “mocktail” version, use sparkling cider instead of champagne. 1/2 oz. freshly squeezed pomegranate juice or store-bought refrigerated pomegranate juice (such as POM) 1/2 oz. triple sec liqueur 1 glass of dry champagne Pomegranate arils (seeds) Orange peel strip, optional Add pomegranate juice and triple sec liqueur to glass and top with champagne. Garnish with pomegranate arils and orange peel.