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The Lamb, The Ham, and The Plan

April 18, 2019

You know, this weekend isn’t just about Passover, there’s also another holiday going on too. It’s hard to miss since all the stores are filled with chocolate, egg themed doodads, and all kinds of rabbit based merchandise.

It’s Easter.

And nothing puts Passover in context as much as Easter. Because as I’m preparing for a long week intended to recall the suffering of slavery, those who celebrate Easter are getting ready to delight their children with baskets full of colorful sweets in a joyful festival of spring. Although I suppose that comes at the finish line of the lenten season. So while I’m facing the prospects of giving up bread, pasta, and granola for a week, there are others who have given up more for longer.

Still, so much attention is paid to the “December dilemma” when Jewish kids miss out on the joys of Christmas. But where’s the sympathy for this spring situation? Hey, I love brisket just as much as the next guy. But lamb? Ham? These are my jam.

Let’s take a moment and discuss these festive holiday joints, including some critical information for those who might be celebrating Easter with a very special meal.

First, we get to have lamb too. A lamb’s shank plays a central role in the Passover story. So we roast a shank bone, and ceremonially place it in position of prominence during the meal.

Around this time of year, lamb shanks are especially hard to find at the market. To get my bone, I had to buy the whole leg. And it’s not the first time I’ve done this. However, it was the first time that I asked the store butcher to bone it out for me. In the past, I’ve enjoyed the process of doing this myself at home. This year, I just didn’t have the time.

I’m not sure exactly what I’ll do with the rest of the leg meat, although an Indian lamb curry is sounding mighty tempting. Over on Facebook, I saw that Dinosaur Bar-B-Que in Troy was selling whole barbecued lamb legs for Easter, and that sounded incredible. Unfortunately, I came across the post too late to order one in time for the holiday, but it’s something to keep in mind for next year.

Sure, I could buy a smoker and slowly barbecue my own lamb at home. But I hardly have time to bone out a leg. Sometimes I’m happy to let others do the cooking for me.

Ham is a great example.

Once, I worked for a guy who we’ll call Boss Man Jones. Not only was he a great leader, he was also an incredible cook, and a gracious soul. One year, BMJ invited the team to his apartment for a holiday meal, complete with a roast turkey, a glazed ham, biscuits, and cornbread. There were probably vegetables too, but that ham was a thing of beauty. He had prepared it himself, and having not grown up around ham, I didn’t even know that was something you could do.

After some begging, he gave me the recipe and technique for his ham glaze. When I made it at home, it came out just as I had hoped. Still, getting a ham is something I’m very happy to outsource.

Long time readers of the blog can probably guess where this is going.

Despite my love for local meat, raised on small family farms, as part of an integrated agricultural plan, one of my favorite guilty pleasures is a HoneyBaked Ham. It’s a miracle of food science. This ham walks on a razor thin tightrope on multiple planes. Not only does is strike a balance between the salty meat and the sweet glaze, but the tender, juicy, smoky pork is perfectly suited for the crispy and crunchy honey coating.

The only problem is that these hams are so perfect, if you vary for the instructions, you’re going to destroy the delicate balance it has been able to achieve. That means you have to follow the instructions, which clearly state:

SERVE AT ROOM TEMPERATURE… WE RECOMMEND THAT YOU DO NOT HEAT YOUR HONEY BAKED HAM… HEATING MAY CAUSE THE MEAT TO DRY OUT AND LOSE FLAVOR.

I added the capitalization for emphasis. And yes, I am screaming at you. Especially those of you who would buy an expensive ham that’s designed to be perfect when served at room temperature, and then are heating it up because you feel like ham should be hot.

If you want your ham hot, buy another brand of ham. Please. You’ll be both saving yourself money, eating a ham that will be better hot, and helping to keep my blood pressure down.

Regardless what holiday you celebrate to commemorate spring and rebirth, or what you plan to eat, the Fussies wish you all the best. And if you want to share what you’re having for the holiday meal, I’m always happy to hear it. Now, I’ve got to put the brisket in the oven.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. April 18, 2019 11:04 am

    Are you sure about this? “Hot ham” has such a ring to it.

    • -R. permalink
      April 18, 2019 11:13 am

      Now you’re just winding the Profusser up. ;-)

      • April 18, 2019 10:24 pm

        His skin is as thick as his palate is keen. Let’s bake our honey hams nice and hot and it will be our little secret!

  2. April 18, 2019 11:17 pm

    You can get a free shankbone at the kosher Price Chopper. Just ask at the kosher butcher counter if they aren’t sitting in the display case. Or you can roast a beet instead, which is what vegetarians do.

  3. Kerosena permalink
    April 19, 2019 2:01 pm

    I’ve come to treasure the Ham Discussion as a traditional part of the Unlocking. Happy Pesach to you and yours, Daniel!

  4. Dave S permalink
    April 20, 2019 3:54 pm

    “…I’m not sure exactly what I’ll do with the rest of the leg meat…”
    Assuming it’s boned, in one piece, grill it.
    Some will be well done, some medium, some rare, all in one leg.
    I’ve introduced a few people to horrible smelly greasy lamb that way.

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