Alton Brown shares his family recipe for ham crust.
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The best ham crust that I have ever tasted was invented by my grandmother, my maid, who also makes passable bags of biscuits. Anyway this things’ really delicious, and for years I have been asking, “Please have that recipe” and she kept saying, “Oh it’s too hard for you”. And then finally last year, for Christmas you know last, I got an envelope containing the recipe for her ham crust. And I looked at it, and I'm kind of feeling ripped off because there’s only four ingredients, brown sugar, mustard, bourbon, which I always keep around on a spray bottle, anyway and the secret she said, Gingersnap cookies pulverized in the food processor.
So I say to her, “four ingredients, what’s the big deal?” She says, “Well that’s the way they are put together”. I say “well, how are they put together?” She says, “next Christmas, dear”.
So I hope you liked it, because I gave up for two years of plaid boxers for it. Oh, all the other hardware, a base in brush.
Let’s see how our city cousins are doing here. Yeah that’s coming along very nicely. Because you can see by looking down at the bottom of the pan, there’s a good bid of that in the bottom of the pan. And that ran out from all of these perforations that we made. Now this is actually rye, that’s the actual pork skin and it tastes pre darn good if you treat it right but the crust doesn’t stick to it very well so we’ll just go around and quickly pull it off. It’s only going to take a little bit of effort.
Okay now we’ve got a nice platform for a glaze, okay. Knead all around, there’s a little bit of that but that’s good. We don’t want things to be too dry, so the first layer is a wet layer—the mustard. Just paint it on. I generally work from the bottom up. You don’t have to get it super thick but if you do kind of want of apply some pressure so that you really kind of get it into all those cracks.
Layer two is a dry layer. Brown sugar—the darker the better, okay, brown sugar’s got molasses in it, that’s going to bring a lot of flavor to the party. Now this is kind of a two-hand operation. Think sprinkle, not push, okay. Just going to kind of sprinkle it on, use one hand to kind of pat as it folds. You’re going to get a little mustard on you but you know what, that’s okay.
Now odds are good that this is going to be wet enough to take on the next layer but just in case it going to get you a little more flavor—bourbon. So just give it a light spread. The final layer, the secret—the Ginger Snap cookies this is a thing that she held out on me for so very long. Well basically we’re going to repeat the same action we did with the brown sugar, this is just the sprinkling. I use two hands here, ever so lightly. Of this layer we kind of want thick, okay as thick as you can get it to take. There, it’s beautiful but it needs to go back into the other. And the cru stings’ a little more heat to set so raise your temperature to 350 degrees. This is only going to take about an hour. We just want to get the meat up about another ten degrees and set that crust.
Which you can cut as thin, or as thick as you like, I like to cut it on the bite so it’ll get a little bit more crust that way. Now once you and yours have finished picking this off, I sure hope you won’t throw away the bone unless of course you used to throw it in that pot of soup thing you got going over there. As far as keeping hold of all this thing, well truth is they set up vice a grip, that’s a pretty fine job.
Well we hope that we have wagged your appetite for the abracadabra that is the American Ham. Whether you lean towards the city or the country, you just stick to some pretty clear rules. Only buy hams that are clearly labeled as just plain “ham” or “ham in natural juices” okay and stay away from anything that’s shaped more like an iMac computer then the hind leg of an animal. Same thing for boneless cuts, just not natural. If you buy a country ham make sure you buy it far enough ahead to give it a couple of day’s time to soak. And always remember to slash a city ham to let some of that fat out. Either way, hams’ magical stuff is well as good eats.