Let’s do some word association. Christmas ham! Did you think of a large pink slab of meat with a brown exterior studded with pineapple rings, cloves and maraschino cherries? Yikes. This is more serious than we thought. Definitely make ham this Christmas — not only is it tradition, it’s salty, chewy pork goodness just begging for a twist. So here are some ideas.


  • Marmalade
  • Mango preserves
  • Red currant jam
  • Blackberry jam


  • Hot Chinese mustard (takeout packets work great)
  • Horseradish mustard
  • Habanero mustard
  • Beer mustard


  • Buckwheat honey (it has a nuttier, more distinctive flavor than its floral counterparts)
  • Smoked sugar (adds a sweet, bacon-caramel flavor that simply begs for more pig)


Use these ingredients strategically to make a really delicious-sounding ham while exerting all the effort of combining two ingredients, three if you want to toss in some brown sugar. Think about it: blackberry-bourbon ham. Red currant and Riesling ham. Buckwheat honey-beer mustard ham. Chinese mango mustard ham. Habanero marmalade ham. We need to get our random generator up and running so you can just do this yourself.

We should note, any of these impromptu glazes can and should be hit briefly with a culinary torch before serving for a crunchy, caramelized effect.

If you absolutely have to stud the thing or else it’s not Christmas, at least make it more functional and better looking than a fruit salad. Peel about 20 cloves of garlic and thread 3-inch stems of rosemary or toothpicks through them into the surface of the ham. Bake as directed, then remove the garlic, mash half the cloves with your potatoes and rub the other half on the bread for your bruschetta. Remember: it’s not a party without bruschetta. Or rum ham.