Bourbon-Glazed Ham and Collards

Happy Easter Sunday, fellow-scallywags!  Religious predilections aside, I feel that Easter — like Thanksgiving — has a message we can all embrace.  Redemption, renewal, new energy, new life…it’s hard not to like the message, no?  And if you’re a sailor in higher latitudes, you get your boat back.  This year, in the New Orleans area, we had beautiful 80-degree sunny skies with 18 knots of wind!  That calls for a screaming sail across the lake, and a simple but seasonal and satisfying supper afterwards when all hands are worn out.


So once you’re tied up, the skipper settled in with a book and an exhausted Spaniel Swab, head down to the galley to pull together an easy meal for the holiday.

Bourbon-Glazed Ham With Collard Greens

Bone-in ham steak, about 1-1/2 pounds
Bunch of fresh collard greens, about 10-12 big leaves
2 tablespoons butter (or 1 each butter and bacon grease)
1 small onion
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup broth
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup Dijon mustard
1/2 cup bourbon

We like collard greens a lot — in addition to being affordable and very hearty during storage–just wrap them in a moist paper towel in a loose plastic bag– they stand up to heat and flavor like kale, but Peter likes them much better for being less “stemmy” and more like spinach in texture, once cooked.  Pull the long center stem and tear up the collards into maybe 2″ pieces.

Give them a good washing and toss them to let them dry a bit.  The drier the better when you go to cook them, so toss them again a couple times while you cook the ham.

Pat the ham steak dry with paper towels.  You want this bone-in steak cut from across the whole ham rather than the pressed kind that’s full of water and without meat texture.

Fry the ham in a tablespoon of butter over medium-high heat for about 3-5 minutes per side, or until browned a bit.  You can see why this recipe attracted my attention…they had me at “fry ham in butter.”

Transfer the ham to a platter and tent with foil to keep it warm.  Melt the additional tablespoon of butter in the pan and add the thinly-sliced onion, stirring over medium heat until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add the minced garlic cloves and stir for a minute or so until fragrant but not browning.  I’ll admit, I usually cook my collards in bacon grease, and prefer it  — if you have it, use it here instead of a second tablespoon of butter.   They get very meaty tasting.

Add the torn greens — as with all greens, they will more than fill your pan, but will cook down quickly — and the broth and give them as much of a stir to coat as you can.  Cook them, covered, until they wilt, about 10 minutes.

You can give them another stir or two during cooking to better coat with the butter and aromatics — it’s kind of hard to stir them when you first add them and they are mounded all over the place…you end up with collards down behind your gimbled stove.  Transfer the greens to the platter with the ham, and tent with foil.

Put the sugar, mustard and bourbon in the pan and cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves and the glaze starts to thicken, about 5 minutes.

Add the ham back and cook, turning occasionally for a few more minutes to cover with glaze.

Cut the ham in portions and serve with greens and extra glaze.  We enjoyed an ear of fresh corn on the side, which the skipper kindly grilled on the transom so that I didn’t have to heat a whole pot of water!

And an added bonus of the bone-in ham steak…a happy swab chomping away on the dock after dinner!  He vastly prefers finding ham bones to Easter eggs.


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