Thursday, December 06, 2012

Yule Feasting

There are only a few historical accounts of the ancient Germanic and Norse practices during Yule but it does seem very certain that feasting was a big part of it. Some people also link the tradition of having a Christmas Ham with the ancient tradition of sacrificing and eating a Yule Boar in honor of the Norse god Freyr during the Yule feast. Boars aren't very easy to get these days but hams are available at any grocery store. And though the practice of serving up a whole boar on a golden platter with an apple in his mouth is also out of fashion, cooking ham with apples certainly isn't. So for a modern spin on an ancient tradition, try this recipe for your Yuletide feast:

Slow-Cooker Apple Spiced Ham. 

This tasty ham is usually made in a slow-cooker but if you don't have one you can use a roasting pan or a Dutch Oven on low heat for an hour or so. This is also a recipe that I invented, so none of the measurements are exact. Have fun and adjust it to your tastes!

You will need:
- 1 cup old fashioned apple juice.
- 3-4 apples (I prefer Macintosh apples).
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp allspice
- a pinch of cloves
- (Nutmeg to taste)
- 1/4 cup maple syrup (you can cheat and add a little maple to some table syrup if you are low)
- 2 tbsp of brown sugar (the darker the better)
- Half a smoked ham (black forest or maple smoked work the best).

Unwrap your ham and grab a handful of cloves. Stick the cloves into the ham at regular intervals to infuse the ham with the spice. Traditionally this is done like so:
but I find that is waaaay too many cloves, especially if it is going to be in the slow cooker all day.
Place your cloved ham into the slow cooker and pour the apple juice in with it. Peel and slice the apples into thick rounds and place these in the the slow cooker, overlapping the ham as much as possible. Sprinkle the ham and apples with the cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg (if you choose to use it). Rub the skin of the ham with the brown sugar and then pour the syrup over it and the apples as evenly as possible. Turn your slow cooker on low and let it cook for 5-7 hours. This is a great recipe to put up before work so you can come back to a delicious meal!
To serve, slice the ham into thick slices, remove as many of the cloves as you can and spoon the apple mush juice over the slice. Give thanks to Freyr for the feast and ask him to bless your new year. Enjoy!
The Norse God Freyr

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