Monday, July 21, 2008

Baked Ham, or Who Needs An Ingredients List First Thing?

I mentioned yesterday the abundance of recipes in The Savannah Cook Book without ingredients lists at the start. The following recipe subverts modern recipe readers' expectations a little more -- the ingredients list, such as it is, comes at the very end.
Baked Ham

(Fortunately this is not quite as complicated as it sounds)

Take any good ham, not necessarily a very expensive one, wash it well and put it in a large boiler, skin side up. Pour over it one can of black molasses and four quarts of weak tea! -- pouring the tea in the empty syrup can to see that no sweetness lingers behind -- and let it soak in this sweet bath overnight.

Next morning, put ham in steamer -- fat side up this time -- and pour over it about two quarts of water, and bake in covered steamer three or four hours.

Take out, skin, and plaster it with a paste made of tomato catsup and mustard. Return it to the oven in this new dress and let it cook about half an hour, basting it frequently with a bottle of beer! Then sprinkle with brown sugar, bake until a little browner, and serve while hot.

Good? Well, you'd be surprised.

The strange ingredients for this proceeding include, besides the ham: one large can black molasses, one cup of tomato catsup, several tablespoons of mustard, four quarts of weak tea, one bottle of beer and one cup of brown sugar.

This recipe charms me for its exuberance (as well as for its entire lack of racist language, which I know was authentic for the period and region, but still screams out from the pages of the book). The exclamation points after the tea and beer mentions slay me. Imagine, one might use tea in something other than a bathtub punch! And beer, as a basting liquid!

All this, and I don't know how many ounces in a jar of molasses, let alone a big jar. I assume it's something we can fudge a bit on... get the biggest jar available in your local grocery store, and call it macaroni.

Though it doesn't state the kind of ham (other than clearly one with a skin), I'm betting with the 24 hour soak we're looking at a country ham.

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