Effortless Easter ham

  • Wednesday, April 16, 2014

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Family Features – This year, make your Easter ham effortless by ditching the oven and using your slow cooker instead. While most people think about slow cooking for staples like chili and stew, it’s also perfect for center-of-the-plate feasts — like an Easter ham.

Using the slow cooker, you can minimize both prep time and cleanup time, leaving plenty of room in the day for church, hunting eggs and enjoying time with your loved ones.

Ham is a tradition for many families this time of year, and because it pairs well with a multitude of ingredients, you can create a unique dish every time.

For a fresh spin on the classic ham, try this Sweet Southern Slow-Cooker Ham recipe from the National Pork Board. Apple cider and bourbon (or vanilla extract, if you prefer) combine to create a rich flavor complemented by the sweetness of brown sugar.

Round out your Easter menu by pairing your ham with classic sides such as oven-roasted carrots, asparagus wrapped in bacon and mashed sweet potatoes.

You can also use leftover ham for flavor-packed recipes like Ham, Apple and Cheddar Crepes, which are ideal for a family-style brunch.

To get inspired by more ham and Easter meal ideas, visit PorkBeinspired.com or Facebook.com/PorkBeinspired.

Sweet Southern Slow-Cooker Ham

Yield: 12 servings

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 4 to 8 hours

1 bone-in fully cooked ham, about 5 1/2 pounds

1 cup apple cider

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

1/3 cup Kentucky bourbon

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup Dijon mustard

4 fresh thyme sprigs

Place ham in large slow cooker. Whisk cider with brown sugar, bourbon, honey and mustard. Slowly pour over ham. Scatter thyme sprigs into slow cooker.

Cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 8 hours, or until very tender. Remove ham to rest on cutting board. Pass remaining cooking liquid through fine mesh sieve into saucepan. Simmer for 10 minutes or until slightly reduced. Carve ham into serving pieces. Brush ham pieces with cooking liquid before arranging on platter. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Note: For a non-alcoholic alternative, replace the bourbon with 1/4 cup water and 1 tablespoon vanilla extract.

Cooking tip: Use leftover ham to make Ham, Apple and Cheddar Crepes.

Ham, Apple and Cheddar Crepes

Yield: 6 servings

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 30 minutes

3 cups ham, shredded and warmed

1 3/4 cups 2% milk

1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

4 large eggs

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 Granny Smith apple, halved, cored and thinly sliced

Cheese Sauce

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1 cup 2% milk

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 cup white cheddar cheese, shredded

2 tablespoons fresh chives, finely chopped

Pour milk, butter, eggs and salt in blender. Mix until well combined. Add flour. Mix for 15 to 20 seconds or until smooth. Let stand for 10 minutes.

Heat an 8-inch crepe pan or nonstick skillet over medium heat. Coat well with nonstick cooking spray. Pour 1/4 cup batter into pan, swirl to fully cover bottom of pan. Cook for 1 minute or until crepe begins to curl around edges. Carefully flip and cook for an additional 30 seconds or until set. Transfer to plate. Repeat with additional cooking spray and remaining batter. Layer cooked crepes between pieces of wax paper to prevent sticking.

Lay a crepe on clean work surface. Arrange few slices of apple on quarter of crepe; top with shredded ham. Fold crepe in half to cover filling and fold in half again to create triangular shape. Repeat with remaining crepes, apple and ham. Place on parchment-lined baking sheet and hold in warm oven until ready to serve, or up to 30 minutes.

For cheese sauce, melt butter in saucepan set over medium heat. Stir in flour until well coated. Cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes or until pale and smooth. Whisk in milk, a splash at a time, until smooth; stir in mustard, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes or until thick enough to coat back of spoon. Remove from heat. Whisk in cheese, a small handful at a time, until melted and smooth.

Place filled crepes on each plate. Spoon cheese sauce over each crepe and sprinkle with chives.

Serving Suggestion: All the elements of the recipe can be prepared a day in advance and gently warmed before assembling.

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