Call me Make-Ahead-Millie because it is my favorite kind of recipe these days. I don’t mind spending quite a bit of time in the kitchen. Just don’t ask me to do it after a long day at work or after coming home from church (e.g. Easter Sunday).
My Easter menu always includes ham, traditionally the rather costly spiral-sliced variety. But I have something different up my sleeve this year.
I am recently smitten with this simple and inexpensive way to prepare ham that I first saw here. Mel cooked hers on the stove, but I’m a slow cooker girl, so this is my version.
All the work can be done ahead of time. An unsliced, bone-in, smoked, shank ham is cooked and shredded a day or two ahead of time in your slow cooker with water and cider vinegar. Shred and refrigerate. Pop it into the oven (or back into the slow cooker) layered with brown sugar and mustard an hour or two before dinner is served. The subtle vinegar flavor left behind from the long cooking time combined with the sugar/mustard treatment results in an irresistably tender and piquant meat entree.
In case you are thinking to yourself something about how salty and fatty ham can be, don’t worry. The long water and vinegar bath helps to neutralize a lot of the salt. As you shred the ham, it’s easy to pull out any fatty pieces. Dissecting the fat from the meat can be slightly tedious but since it can be done ahead, it’s forgivable. Exam gloves are helpful.
I can’t resist mentioning one more thing I love about this ham. It’s easy for kids to eat since no fat has to be trimmed off on their plate, and the shreds are already bite-sized. Or, stuff some into homemade or store-bought slider buns for an easy-to-eat miniature sandwich.
I prefer this ham with no additional condiments. But if you are a mustard lover like my husband, you might appreciate an extra dose of mustard flavor provided by the Honey-Mustard Barbecue Sauce pictured below. Incidentally, grilled meats such as ribs or chicken benefit from the same treatment.
Speaking of homemade rolls, the bread you see in the picture above is my best clone of Sweet Hawaiian Bread to date. Come back in a couple of weeks for the tested-and-tried details. You will be able to make it in your bread machine, of course.
- 7-10 pound bone-in, unsliced, smoked, shank ham
- 2 cups apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup prepared mustard (or Dijon)
- 1 slice bacon, diced
- ¾ cup frozen chopped onion
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- ¾ cup prepared yellow mustard
- ¼ cup brown sugar, packed
- ¼ cup honey
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Place ham into a large slow cooker large enough to still get the lid on. You may have to chop off a piece to accomplish this. No harm. Just lay the cut off piece beside the ham in the cooker.
- Pour 2 cups apple cider vinegar over ham, then fill slow cooker with water to just barely cover ham.
- Cook on Low for 8-10 hours.
- Remove ham from water–discard water. When cool enough to handle, pull the ham off the bone. (Save the bone for your next pot of beans.) Use 2 forks or gloved hands to shred ham. You can refrigerate at this point or proceed if serving immediately.
- In separate bowl, combine brown sugar and mustard (either prepared yellow mustard or Dijon–your preference) and stir to make a paste.
- Layer half of ham into 9 x 9-inch or similar casserole dish.
- Spread half of the brown sugar/mustard paste over first layer of ham. Then add remaining ham, topping with remaining brown sugar paste.
- Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees or until heated through.
- You could also put the ham back into the empty slow cooker layered with the brown-sugar/mustard sauce and cook on low for 2-3 hours.
- Fry bacon in medium saucepan until crisp. Scoop bacon out of pan leaving drippings behind and drain on paper towel.
- Saute onion and garlic 2-3 minutes in drippings until soft.
- Add remaining ingredients, including crispy bacon bits and bring to a boil. Reduce temperature and simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Refrigerate leftovers.