Ham on its own is tasty enough, but a glaze takes the flavor up a notch, making it elegant enough for a special brunch or dinner. Add the glaze when the ham is already heated through. In most cases, you'll want a glaze with a high sugar content. The sugar complements the sweet flavor of the meat and browns well.
Ham is a sweet meat that naturally pairs well with fruit. Take your favorite chutney, jam or jelly, heat it to melt it and brush it on a ham during the last 15 to 20 minutes of baking. The sugar in the fruit preserves caramelizes to create a golden brown crust. For a more complex taste, mix the fruit preserves with a complementary flavor. Try cherry jelly with a bit of lemon peel or almond extract, or apricot preserves with rosemary and dried mustard.
Mustard of any kind has a natural affinity to ham, especially if you add a sweetener. Use a brown, grainy mustard or a Dijon-type mustard. Stir in brown sugar, molasses or crushed pineapple with the juice. You might need to heat the glaze slightly to melt and blend the ingredients before brushing the sauce on the ham. Chilis, in any form, are another way to add kick to a ham glaze. Add dried chipotle chili powder to raspberry, blackberry or blueberry preserves.
Combine garlic, soy sauce, ginger and orange marmalade for a flavorful glaze. Keep in mind that if you go this route, the traditional side dishes of gratin potatoes or green bean casserole might seem out of place. Opt for light, healthful side dishes with an Asian flair. For example, prepare a green salad with edamame, cashews, cranberries and a ginger-soy dressing.
When you want something lighter than a fruit glaze but still crave sweetness, glaze a ham with pure maple syrup -- but not the corn syrup-laden stuff. Maple syrup is costly, but you don't need much to create a lot of flavor. For a completely different take on a glaze, mix a little cola with brown sugar, garlic and mustard.
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