Christmas can be stressful at the best of times. Preparing a feast for festive celebrations can overextend the most confident cooks. Cast aside the Christmas stress and celebrate the holiday season with tequila glazed ham…
A cataclysmic calm descends upon many people a few weeks out from Christmas. The kind of calm where you can see everybody breathing extra deeply, arms hanging limply at their sides, their fists tightly clenched and eyes frantically wild. People smile a lot too. And then there is the nervous chatter about the weather, family or people’s plans for the holidays. All spoken a few tones above the usual speaking range. It can be a tense time of year. Christmas stress can bring us all down.
Me, I deal with Christmas stress slightly differently. Food is my safe haven. You will see me attending BBQs, dinners and parties eating my way to happiness. I will eat Cheerios, sweets, pies and crisps until I can no longer move. I will then go hunker down in the corner with some pretzels and beer to wait for some extra room in my stomach to open up. Drinking, did I touch upon the drinking?
Suffice to say it can be a stressful time of year for many people, with work getting busier than ever, all while you are trying to finish it up for the upcoming holidays. And then there is planning your holiday. There are Christmas presents to be bought and cards to be sent. It can send the best of us into a spin and make the sturdiest of us want to hit the bottle. I think the saying goes: dreaming of a white wine Christmas.
Thinking about food for our special day can be the the final strawberry. The last piece of chocolate. The thing that dents our carefully orchestrated calm and sends us into a red-nosed rage!
I have seen the worst of it working on Christmas eve in food shops. People who have driven two hours across town because they are looking for dried sour cherries that don’t have any sugar in them. Or those that desperately need to find 80% dark chocolate for some complicated recipe they have their heart set on. People get obsessed with finding all of the obscure ingredients in their recipes and will go to any lengths to find them.
But I say go back to your roots. Follow your forefathers and put a bit of booze in everything you cook. Don’t get obsessed with following recipes right down to the mistletoe garnish. Make food fun, creative and exciting. Understand the techniques behind making a ham glaze, how to keep a turkey moist in the oven or the theory of making a Christmas cake and then go crazy. Change your recipe to suit the ingredients you can get in season and at your local food shop. Save yourself the stress of driving around town on Christmas eve trying t0 find the perfect ingredients. Trust me, the stress is far more likely to cause your food harm than not following a recipe exactly will.
In honour of fun times and celebrations I have conceived a recipe for my ideal glazed ham. Tequila is my favourite celebratory drink and I have heard whisperings about a recipe for tequila glazed ham floating in the ether. But nowhere could I find such a thing! But here’s the thing, if you understand what a glaze is then I see no reason why you can’t devise your own.
A glaze is basically a sugar syrup with some edge, if you think about it. In its simplest form you use sugar for sweetness, fruit juice or alcohol for tartness and then some spices for more complexity in flavour. There are many variations of course, but this is the basic technique. So I figure, why not use agave syrup (a natural sweetener from the agave plant, which incidentally is what tequila is made out of) for its sweetness, tequila for its tartness and smokiness (which is a perfect match with ham – triple smoked ham anyone?) and chilli for its bite (and the fact that it turns into a super duper yummy glace with the syrup being poured over it only adds to the joy).
So check out my tequila glazed ham recipe and learn the basic techniques of the glaze. Follow it completely or create your own recipe. Easy recipeasy!
One tequila, two tequila, three tequila…