Root Beer Glazed Ham

Dec 27, 2010

 Around holiday time, a popular New Orleans family dish is ham with a root beer glaze. This recipe is a take off on that idea (although I also include a technique for the original). New Orleans produces some of the country’s best root beers. My personal favorite, and most widely available, is Barq’s. If you can find it, I also highly recommend Abita Brewing Company’s root beer. I’m not gonna lie… you probably won’t want to break this recipe out for a Tuesday night quick supper. It will require some love and attention, but this pork belly will reward you handsomely. Trust me, it’s worth the effort!

Yields 8 servings

  • ½ Fresh Pork Belly (about 6 lbs)
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 6 pieces star anise
  • 3 tablespoons fennel seeds
  • 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon whole cloves
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 3 12-ounce bottles Barq’s or Abita Root Beer
  • ¼ cup brown sugar

Method: 

First, prepare the dry cure. Toast the spices in a hot, dry pan. Grind them in a spice grinder, then combine with the sugar and salt in a bowl.

Rub the pork belly all over with the dry cure. Place in a large sealable plastic bag or wrap tightly in plastic. Put this into a casserole dish in case it leaks and keep in the refrigerator for 3 days to cure. Flip the package once a day to redistribute the cure.

OK, let’s take a sec to discuss planning, because by now you’ve realized that this is a time-intensive recipe you’ve decided to undertake. This thing has to cure for 3 days and then cook for 7-8 hours. This is best done overnight. So, I suggest curing the pork belly in the evening, say after work. Then, 3 days later after work, proceed with cooking it, then take it out of the oven when you wake up in the morning. You think coffee makes your house smell good in the morning? Just wait.

On the third day, preheat your oven to 200F. Rinse the pork belly dry and place in a casserole dish just big enough to snugly fit it. In a bowl, stir together the chicken stock, root beer, and brown sugar. Pour over the pork belly, cover tightly with foil, and put it in the oven for 7-8 hours. (Don’t worry if you’re a late sleeper… 9 or 10 hours won’t hurt it, but you should check to make sure that the pan hasn’t gone dry. If it looks like it’s getting dry add a cup or 2 of chicken stock). Remove the pork belly from the pan carefully and allow to cool. Pour the juices into a measuring cup and allow the fat to separate to the top. Skim or pour off the fat. Reserve the juices.

To serve, cut the belly into 8 pieces. Sear, with the fatty side down, in a medium hot pan until crispy. Flip over and pour the braising juices over top. Allow the juices to reduce to a glaze. Serve this dish with grits or mashed potatoes. Drink a Brown Ale, or, of course, ROOT BEER!

Oh, and just in case you don’t have the time or inclination to make that recipe, here’s a nice take on the original. Enjoy! 

Half or Whole cured Ham

  • 2 bottles root beer
  • 1 lb. light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons dry mustard powder
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

Method 

Heat oven to 350F. Score the ham. In a deep casserole or roasting pan, pour 1½ bottles root beer over the ham and bake for 30 minutes, basting every 10  minutes or so. Combine the other ½ bottle of root beer with the rest of the ingredients and pour over the ham. Bake until done, basting the top of the ham with the glaze when it gets dry.

About the Chef

Eric Joppie is a classically trained professional Chef and sentimental resident of New Orleans, although he currently resides in Sonoma County, California. He has cooked for the past 14 years in America and Britain, and specializes in Market-Based Seasonal Cuisine. Eric is currently featured in Sexy Dishes: A Guide to Who’s Hot in the Kitchen, San Francisco Edition published by TasteTV, available on Amazon.com. He is also proud to be a dear friend of Susan Neely.