College Ham


Yesterday our daughter decided where she’s going to college. As you may know applying to college is a lengthy process. It’s complicated by the mountain of decisions you need to make along the way, including but not limited to:

Does this school offer what I want to study?
Can we afford it?
Are my grades and test scores good enough to get me in?
Will I fit in at this school?
What if I don’t get along with my roommate?
Will I starve if insert your school’s name here’s food is horrible?

We were exceedingly lucky since early on our daughter knew what she wanted to study – criminal justice – and was clear she wanted a small college or university since her high school graduating class is only 21 people. Those two choices narrowed the field considerably.

Her third criteria was a bit harder to find. Isabelle wanted to be able to cook her own food because she is a picky eater. Not picky as in she won’t try things. Rather picky because she tries not to eat:

junk food
processed foods
genetically modified foods
meats treated with antibiotics
anything prepared in butter (yup she won’t eat my cookies)
fried foods
cow dairy
processed sugar

It’s a long list. It’s not a particularly food service friendly list either. None of the schools from her potential college list allow freshman to cook for themselves, though most of them accommodate a variety of dietary needs and preferences.

university of new haven campus

After Bella made the decision to go University of New Haven the first thing I suggested she do at orientation this summer is make friends with the people over at food service. The second thing is to figure out how she can tweak their food system so it works for her, because that’s what she’ll need to do. With an undergraduate population of 4,600 food services has to cook in bulk. Plus most students want to eat the things Isabelle eschews.

As part of the Accepted Student Day program we were served a classic college lunch. Dining services somehow cooked and served food not only to all of the returning UNH students, but also to the 300+ prospective freshman and their parents (we guesstimated there were roughly 800-1000 people) who had shown up to revisit the campus before making their final college decision. Isabelle and Shawn went straight to the salad bar and topped off their salads with a couple of vegan rice and bean cakes. I decided to go for the classic ham dinner which consisted of thick slices of pineapple baked ham with gravy, french cut green beans, and scalloped potatoes straight from some industrial size box. I have a secret fondness for those dehydrated potatoes you add boiling water and a package of powdered cheese mix to. It must come from growing up in the 60s & 70s.

college ham

Much as I enjoyed my trip-down-memory-lane lunch and was impressed with the variety of food choices being served at the UNH cafeteria, I have to say my all-time favorite ham is Monte’s Ham from the Saveur Cooks Authentic American cookbook. The recipe’s premiss is to buy the cheapest bone-in ham you can find* and slather it with a delicious glaze, thus enabling you to feed the masses very inexpensively and deliciously. I’ve can usually find a super cheap ham, but I have to spend as much again on the glaze ingredients which chafes my wallet. Marmalade does not come cheap (unless you make your own or find it on sale) even at a big box store.

I often make this ham during the holidays, since we can count on it for many meals. First it appears in its roasted form, then the next few days sliced cold for sandwiches, chunked for a quiche, and finally when we’re down to the bone it flavors a pot of lentil soup. Even figuring in the cost of a good marmalade it still is an economical dinner with plenty of leftovers. Perhaps I should send this recipe down to the cooks at UNH.

College Ham

1  10-15 pound ham

1 – 1 1/2 cups marmalade

3/4 – 1 cup dijon mustard (grainy or plain)

1 – 1 1/2 cups tightly packed brown sugar

1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

Preheat the oven to 300ºF. Remove the little plastic disc which comes stuck into the bone, rinse and pat dry the ham, and remove any hard brown pieces of skin. Place ham in a large roasting pan, which you’ve lined with foil since the glaze bakes on hard. If you don’t mind soaking and scrubbing the pan you can skip that step. Depending on the size of your ham bake 1  1/4 – 2 hours. Near the end of the baking time mix together the glaze ingredients – marmalade, dijon, brown sugar, cloves.

Increase oven temperature to 350ºF, pour half the glaze over ham, brushing it into all the nooks and crannies. Bake another 1  1/2 hours, pouring more glaze over the ham every 20 minutes or so. You can also spoon the glaze which is starting to caramelize on the bottom of the pan over the ham as well.

When ham is cooked place on a platter and let rest for 15-30 minutes, covered loosely with a fresh piece of foil. Slice and serve with or without boxed potatoes au gratin.

No mater how you slice it we are all thrilled Isabelle will be attending the University of New Haven’s John C. Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Science this fall. Go Chargers!!!

UNH Chargers

Images of University of New Haven and UNH Chargers courtesy of UNH

*Unfortunately a cheap ham means it was not likely to have been raised without antibiotics, but sometimes even at home Isabelle can’t have everything on her food wish list.

**During the financial aid talk Shawn and I almost choked when we heard the price of the freshman meal plan – $5,250/year. Later we realized it wasn’t as bad as we initially thought. Meals work out to about $20.04/day, which is reasonable. Especially when you consider someone else is washing the dishes.


Filed under 50 Recipes

6 responses to “College Ham

  1. Greg Macdonald

    Cynthia, Try looking at Ocean State Job Lots for food (like marmalade) bargains. They don’t always have everything and you have to watch for “Country of origin” but their prices are super low on canned and glass jarred staples. There’s one in the K-Mart plaza in Holyoke. Greg

  2. Sandy


    Congratulations! I always love your blog…thanks for sharing.

    Bella, (who is adorable), may not be interested, but be sure to visit Frank Pepes Pizza on Wooster St …New Haven’s BEST!

    Sandy Hamblin Leverence

  3. Marisa

    What a gorgeous picture of Bella! Congratulations to all of you – the college process is daunting. We always enjoy scalloped potatoes with leftover ham as well as ham salad…not healthy but yummy none the less. XO

  4. Pingback: Antidote to Stress – Creamed Food | 50years50recipes

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