I’ve sworn off high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) for a few years now. My HFCS ban is one of the reasons I started cooking more of my own meals. At least in the United States, it’s pretty difficult to avoid HFCS in processed or convenience foods. Soda — or pop, depending on where you live — was one of the easier HFCS products to cut. I had already succumbed to the Diet Coke craze during college, like so many other calorie-conscious co-eds. Which is all a long way of saying that I’ve had a 2‑liter bottle of Coca-Cola perched on my fridge for a few months that I certainly wasn’t going to drink. I also have a freezer of pork, including several hams, begging to be eaten. It all came together to form a perfect “excuse” to make the ham in cola recipe that Kristin sheepishly sent me a few weeks ago. Despite my reservations, the ham turned out beautifully, just as Kristin promised it would.
Ham in Coca-Cola
adapted from Nigella Bites by Nigella Lawson
for the ham:
1 x 4 1/2‑lb (2‑kg) ham
1 onion, peeled and cut in half
1 x 2‑liter bottle cola (recommended: Coca-Cola)
for the glaze:
1 heaped tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons English mustard powder
2 tablespoons Demerara (raw cane sugar) or granulated brown sugar
For the ham: Place the ham and the onion into a large pot or Dutch oven and pour the cola on top. On a medium-high heat, allow the cola to come to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cover with a lid, though not tightly, and allow to cook for 2 1/2 hours (1 hour for every 2 lb/900 g).
Preheat the oven to 500°F (240°C).
For the glaze: Pull the ham from the pot and allow it to rest on a cutting board, reserving the cooking liquid if you want to make Nigella’s South Beach Black Bean Soup. Using a sharp knife, trim the skin, leaving a thin layer of fat on the ham. Using the knife, score the fat diagonally into large diamond cuts. Spread the honey over the meat. Gently pat the powdered mustard and sugar around the meat, so it sticks to the honey. Gently place the ham in a roasting pan (lined with aluminum foil for easier clean-up). Cook the ham for about 10 minutes, or until the glaze is burnished and bubbly.
To braise the ham in advance and then let it cool, take the ham from the refrigerator, glaze it according to the recipe, and allow it to sit at room temperature for 30 to 40 minutes. Place in a 350°F (180°C) oven for 30 to 40 minutes, turning up the heat if you think it needs a more crispy exterior.
Parmesan Smashed Potatoes
adapted from the The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook by Ina Garten
4 lb (1.75 kg) red new potatoes, unpeeled
1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus 2 teaspoons
1 cup (240 ml) half-and-half (or half milk, half cream)
1/4 lb (110 g) unsalted butter
1/2 cup (50 g) freshly grated Parmesan
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Place the potatoes and 1 tablespoon of salt in a 4‑quart saucepan and add cold water to cover. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer covered for 25 to 35 minutes, until completely tender. Drain.
In a small saucepan, heat the half-and-half and butter. Put the potatoes into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix the potatoes for a few seconds on low speed, to break them up. Slowly add the hot cream and butter to the potatoes, mixing on the lowest speed (the last quarter of the cream should be folded in by hand). Fold in the Parmesan cheese and the remaining salt and pepper; taste for seasoning and serve immediately. If the potatoes are too thick, add more hot cream and butter.
Roasted Beets with Greens and Goat Cheese
2 bunches beets with greens, washed well
8 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 oz (60 g) goat cheese, crumbled
Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Remove the greens from the beets and set aside. Toss the beets in 5 tablespoons of olive oil, then wrap in aluminum foil. (I usually place 2 to 3 beets in each foil packet.) Roast until tender, 60 to 90 minutes, depending on the size of the beets. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 15 to 20 minutes before peeling and quartering the beets. If the beets are very large, cut into 1‑inch pieces instead of quartering them.
While the beets cool, roughly chop the beet greens. Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over a medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for about 1 minute, until fragrant but not browned. Stir in the beet greens and saute, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes, until they’re wilted and tender. If the greens begin to scorch, add a tablespoon or so of water or cover with a lid. Season the greens to taste with salt and pepper.
To serve, spoon the greens onto a plate, top with roasted beets and then crumbled goat cheese.