Ive never been a big fan of ham. Its often salty, seldom tender, and quite frankly boring. About the only thing going for it is that its a pre-seasoned hunk of meat that will feed a lot of people, which is probably why its been a popular choice for parties.
If you can get past the salt though, ham does have an incredible amount of flavor locked up in the meat, which is why I like using it in soups and stocks. One way to quell the salt is to braise it in a sweet liquid.
Fruit juice and even cola works, but after preparing this wine braised ham for a holiday party, I cant imagine using any other liquid. This was so good and so simple to make it will be replacing my pot roasted chicken as the go-to meal of choice for company.
Some of the salt from the ham migrates into the wine, while the long simmer breaks down the fat and connective tissues rendering the meat melt-in-your mouth tender. The ham takes on the color and flavor of the wine and the sweet honey takes the edge off the remaining salt in the pork.
The best part though is that youre left with a ham, caramelized onion and red wine stock that can be reduced and turned into a sauce, or better yet; it can be used to cook veggies making for a one-pot meal. Root vegetables work, but in a nod to classics such as bacon and cabbage, and choucroute garnie, I love to shred a head of cabbage and let it simmer in the braising liquid until its as tender as the meat.
With only five ingredients, its absurdly simple to make and yet the fruit from the wine and the smoke from the meat create a marvelously complex array of flavors that tastes like you really put a lot of effort into it.
Red Wine Braised Ham
Marc Matsumoto is a culinary consultant and recipe repairman who shares his passion for good food through his website norecipes.com. For Marc, food is a life long journey of exploration, discovery and experimentation and he shares his escapades through his blog in the hopes that he inspires others to find their own culinary adventures. Marcs been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, and has made multiple appearances on NPR and the Food Network.