Saturday, April 11, 2009

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Forbidden Ham: Konohiki Short Pig

If tiki pads paid as much attention to their food as they do drinks, a lot more converts would be listening to Jake Shimabukuro and donning Hawaiian shirts. As it stands, tropical cocktails take the lion’s share of attention while hungry drinkers frequently make do with appetizers that just don’t try as hard as the well-crafted beverages.

Exceptions are out there, of course. Jeff Barry, Wayne Curtis, and Chris DeBarr put together a tiki meal for last year’s Tales of the Cocktail on New Orleans that paired locally-sourced foods with “exotic” spices and reportedly elevated the stellar cocktail experience to new heights (can’t vouch for that as I was making a glutton of myself that night at Cochon with a table full of distillers and snoots of Ted Breaux’s Perique liqueur).

But thoughts of that dinner surfaced recently after I bought a spiral-cut ham. The industrial glaze packet included with the ham reeked of clove oil, too much cinnamon, and too much sugar. So I threw it out. A light glaze was called for while the ham baked, but what to substitute at a moment’s notice? Over the pings of the warming oven, a siren call softly came of tiki cocktails. Yes, tiki would save my ass.

The ham could not be simpler, assuming you have two tropical staples on hand: Angostura bitters and orgeat, the almond syrup called for in drinks such as the classic Scorpion Bowl or San Diego’s own Coronado Luau Special. Heating the orgeat and bitters with Dijon mustard proved just the taste I was going for. Pineapple might work, but I didn’t have any. Clearly, this is a recipe the invites dinking and tweaking.

The ham may be whole or half, bone-in, or boned. In this instance, it a half, bone-in, spiral-cut number.
Konohiki Short Pig

One ready-to-eat ham

1 cup/250ml Dijon mustard (whole grain or Creole is fine)
1 cup/250ml orgeat
½ oz Angostura bitters

Preheat the oven to 350°F/162°C. If the ham has skin, cut it off and trim any fat to ¼” or so. Line a roasting pan with aluminum foil and place the ham, fat side up, in the pan. Cook about ten minutes per pound (so about two hours for a half ham, up to three hours for a larger one) or until the internal temperature reaches 130-40°F/54-60°C. Remove from the oven and bump the temperature to 425°F/218°C.

In a small pan, heat the glaze ingredients together and whisk until smooth. Pour this glaze over the ham. If it is spiral-cut, make sure the glaze gets down in between the slices. Heat in the oven another 20-30 minutes, basting now and then with the juices and glaze that pools on the bottom of the pan.

Remove the ham from the oven, cover it loosely with aluminum foil and let it rest about 20 minutes before carving and serving.

And—because I think the guy's amazing—Jake Shimabukuro playing While My Guitar Gently Weeps. You can play it while your short pig gently bakes.



Max Watman said...

A) My god, but we were gluttonous at Cochon.

B) This is a great idea for a glaze. Angostura cooks really well. So does peychauds. I made a soused shrimp thing with peychauds a couple of times that kills.

Matthew Rowley said...

A) I'm going back. And may preface dinner with lunch at Cochon Butcher right behind it.

B) So, spill, Max: how do you do the shrimp?

Hadacol said...

Jake is a badass on that thing (if that's possible on a Uke.

My youngest, art boy, loves that guy. Which meant that I had to buy a couple of Ukes on ebay. Thank God he's never taken up grand piano.

And the last time I was in a Trader Vic's (Dallas, circa 1982)I remember the food being not so bad. Are there any Trader Vic's left in the world?

Cochon Butcher is great, but man, make sure that you have plenty of room on the plastic. It ain't cheap. Yikes!

Matthew Rowley said...

Twice a year on Cochon I can afford. Good thing I live way the hell away.

As for Trader Vic's—yeah, there are some around and it seems they've had a big cash infusion. We dropped in on one in Scottsdale a few months back. Sleek, stylish, and decent drinks. The mugs, however, are still skulls and faces in the grand tiki tradition.