Monday, March 27, 2006

Big Fat Dinner

**Update: Pictures are working on blogger!**

...and by fat I'm referring to how I felt all day...that and hungover!

On Sunday, I had invited a handful of peeps over for a yummy dinner. Food, Friends (old and new) and good conversation. My favorites!!! The guests were Footnotes, Lost in Somewhereistan, Mr. and Mrs. Chilefire, TVF16S, Chase-ing Complacency and Lord and Lady Brandenburg.

We had a great time and from the few leftovers, we enjoyed the food.

The Spread

I first proposed this gathering about two months ago, maybe even three months....and I spent as much time worrying about what to make. It had to be tasty. I really wanted it to be something that I'd made before, so I would know how it would turn out. Something that could hold up being served buffet style. And safe for a range of tastebuds.

I settled on
*Cola Baked Hame with Cherry-Orange Glaze (below)
*Carmalized Onion Marmalade (for the ham) (below)
*Rosemary Parmesan Au Gratin Potatoes (below)
*Sweet Chili Cucumbers (tart and clean taste, slightly sweet and mildly spicy)
*Fennel-Orange Salad (very refreshing, bright flavors against the richness of the ham/potatoes)

and that morning, I decided to make some Brown Bread as well.

With this menu, I knew I could have virtually everything done prior to my guests arriving and we could go back for more without worrying that something wouldn't hold up.

A big thank you to Chilefire for bringing a spicy rubbed, smoked lambchops with four different chili dipping sauces. Those sauces were amazing and there was a near war over who could take some of the leftovers! I admitted that I don't like lamb. I've never had lamb I've enjoyed...until these! There was nothing lamby about them. Excellent. There were also blue corn muffins with bacon and chilis...made in corn husks! And Lost in Somewhereistan brought us some Myer Lemon Pound Cake with Blueberry Sauce. The Best Blueberry Sauce I've Ever Had....I want waffles for the leftovers!

So...the recipes:

Cola-Baked Ham with Cherry-Orange Glaze
serves a bajillion! 10-20 in reality

1 (10-12 pound) fully cooked, bone-in ham
1 TB ground allspice
1 (2 liter) bottle of cola
1 cup cherry preserves or jelly
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
2 TB orange liquor (Triple Sec)
Extras: Dinner rolls, a favorite mustard and carmelized-onion marmalade (see below)

Preheat oven to 325F.

Trim rind and excess fat from the ham. Leave some fat on the ham for flavor and moisture. I cut off most of the fat and then placed a few pieces back on top of the ham to melt down over the meat!

Place the ham in a large roasting pan and sprinkle with allspice. Pour the cola into the bottom of the pan and bake uncovered for 90 minutes, basting every 15 minutes with the cola/fat juices in the pan.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine the cherry preserves, orange juice and triple sec over medium heat, stirring, until melted and warm. Reserve.

After the first 90 minutes, start brushing the ham with the cherry-orange glaze, continue, brushing every 15 minutes, for another 60-90 minutes until the internal temperature reaches 140 degrees and the glaze has carmelized and sticky!

If the ham is starting to brown to much, loosely cover with foil, again until the internal temperature reaches 140F. Remove ham from the oven and let rest for 30-60 minutes before slicing. Serve warm or at room temperature, thinly sliced. (Thanks for the help Lord B!)

I served this with the ham:

Carmelized-Onion Marmalade

2 medium red onions, sliced thinnly
1 tsp oil oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper, freshly ground
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup golden raisins, chopped
1/2 cup white wine
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
1 tsp ground or rubbed sage (I find it easier to find 'rubbed' sage vs. 'ground')
1/8 tsp ground cayenne (or more to taste)

In a medium saucepan, heat olive oil of high heat. Add the onions and stir to coat. Allow to sizzle and cook for about 5 minutes. Lower heat and allow to carmelize for about 10 minutes. Add the water, brown sugar and raisins. Stir to incorporate. Add the wine and vinegar, sage and cayenne. Lover heat to medium-low to low, cover and cook for 50 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are tender and the mixture has thickened.

I made this a day in advance, then reheated the mixture prior to serving.

My favorite side dish for "spring" menus...the season when I make this with the most regularity, are the:

Rosemary Parmesan Au Gratin Pototoes

6 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/8-1/4 inch slices
1 medium onion, sliced thinnly
2 cups 1/2 & 1/2
2 TB Rosemary, plus 1 stalk/sprig
2 cups heavy cream
2 TB Butter, plus 1 TB extra for the casserole dish
4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1 cup Parmagiano Reggiano, grated
Salt and pepper to taste

Pre-heat the oven to 375. Lightly butter a 9x13 casserole dish. Set aside. Add the ½ & ½ , onions and potatoes in a heavy pan, add water to cover the spuds. Also add the extra stick of rosemary. Slowly bring to a simmer and remove from the heat.

Meanwhile, in a small sauce pan, over low heat, steep the rosemary and garlic in the heavy cream and butter.

Spoon the potatoes and onions into the casserole, layering with a sprinkle of cheese as you go along. Pour in the cream/rosemary/garlic mixture. Watch how much you add, 2 cups may be too much. You only want approximately the bottom ¼ of the pan to have the cream. If you have ½ the casserole with cream, your dish will remain loose and not set up nicely. Top with the cheese. Bake for 45 minutes. The cheese will start to get brown and bubbly. If you want more brown and bubbly, bake for another 15 minutes.

There you have it kids...a whole boat load of goodies!


DC Food Blog said...

Dear god does that sound like a crazy good feast. You'd better count us in for the next one. We're sorry we couldn't make this one.

Dancer in DC said...

I must say that leftover ham/marmalade sandwiches are divine. The salads don't hold up well as leftovers however, so eat them the same day.

And let us not forget that there was much (VERY much) wine consumed, as well as beer.

Dancer in DC said...

All the pictures turned out great. Look at that slab of ham! (Apologies to all vegetarians out there...)

Stef said...

Those pictures do look great! What a fantastic memory... of the meal, and of all the great people and fun conversations. Thank you!

Lady Brandenburg said...

I'm still savoring the memories... and chilefire's chimayo chili sauce - we've eaten it every single day for a week - on everything!!!

Thanks again to ScottE (and for the fab dinner last night!) We love you so much because you put so much love and effort into your food. What a treat.