You know those prep-ahead clean eating lunch videos – often from Tasty? Well, I decided to give one a whirl.
Here’s the basic concept: pick 1 protein for 3-oz servings, 2 vegetables, and 1 gluten free carbohydrate (rice, potatoes, quinoa).
Mine: chicken breast with ginger aioli, brussels sprouts, asparagus and mushrooms, and creamer potatoes.
I took some help from my local Harris Teeter produce: cut and salt/pepper/garlicked brussels sprouts and asparagus pack ($3.99 each) and a ready-to-bake-in-pan package of creamer potatoes (also $3.99). The potatoes came with a seasoning packet, which I chose to use because the sodium was really, really low.
The only thing I made was garlic aioli. How? Peel some garlic – about 2 inches worth – and pour 1/4 cup of your good oil (olive, grapeseed, coconut) and a pinch of salt into your bullet blender and let it go. Then I brushed it directly onto my chicken breasts. I drizzled the little bit left over onto the brussels sprouts, just because.
Into a 450°F fully preheated oven for 30 minutes. That’s all it takes.
Let it cool and divvy it up into four microwave safe food storage containers. Voila. Lunch for the week – for me, at least, since I have only four days with a fixed lunch hour.
$2.90 – Chicken Breast – one giant one from a 6-pack, cut into 4 pieces
$3.99 – pre-cut asparagus with sliced mushrooms and minced garlic
$3.99 – pre-cut brussels sprouts seasoned with salt and pepper
$3.99 – creamer potatoes already in a baking pan and including seasonings
I’ve got a few favorite shows on Food Network, and Nigella Express is tops for me. She cooks just like me, in a throw it together, don’t measure anything, do whatever it takes to make it ooey gooey yummy and then watch your friends and family enjoy!
So a few weeks ago, I caught an episode where she made a Ginger-glazed Ham. Now anyone who knows me personally has just lifted their eyebrows to the ceiling (perhaps beyond, in a few cases)…because everybody knows I hate ham. Wait…sshhhhh…about a month ago, to be polite, I ate some ham at Sunday dinner at a friend’s house a month or so ago, and it wasn’t horrible. Still not my favorite meat preparation, but I learned I don’t hate it anymore.
But when I saw Nigella combine ham–a mediocre meat preparation–and ginger glaze, my eyes lit up and my mouth watered. Now, I may be just okay with ham, but I LOVE ginger!
1 8-lb ham shoulder (bone in)–because I couldn’t find boneless ham joint at my grocery store
1 2-liter of ginger ale–just use the store brand
1 cup (or about half a jar) of ginger preserves–I find Dundee’s to be the best, with a strong, spicy flavor and natural ingredients
2 tablespoons of dijon mustard–again, I had store brand in the house, so that’s what I used
1/2 teaspoon of ground cloves
1/2 cup light brown sugar
Put the ham in your crock pot and fill it up with ginger ale; mine took about 1.5 liters. If the ham is too big for you to put the lid on (like mine was), just cover it snuggly with foil. Put it on whatever setting you need to get it through the day; I happened to be at home the day I made mine, so I stuck with Nigella’s original 4 1/2 hour cooking time, setting my crock pot on the 4 hours on high button (mine has four buttons, 4 or 6 hours at high or 8 or 10 hours at low).
When it’s done in the crock pot, take it out with some large meat forks/scoops and place it on a baking rack in a foil-lined pan (with high sides, preferably). With a fork, perhaps some tongs, and a sharp knife, cut away the skin and most of the fat, exposing the dark pink meat of the ham. While it’s cooling just a little, mix up the glaze ingredients in a bowl: ginger preserves, mustard, cloves, and brown sugar. Then slather on the glaze and pop it into a 400 degree oven for 20-30 minutes, depending on how crispy you like your glaze.
PS–this glaze is about the most amazing spicy sweetness I’ve come across in a loooong time. I can imagine it topping just about any grilled, baked, or roasted meat: chicken, pork chops, lamb chops, tuna or swordfish steaks. I think I also prefer it to Major Grey’s mango chutney for my spicy curry topping too.
Paired with this sweet and spicy ham is a baked potato salad and steamed broccoli.
Oooo, and the best thing is that you can repeat this process with any flavor combination. Imagine cooking it in pineapple juice all day before glazing it in pineapple preserves, or orange juice and orange marmalade, or apple juice and apple butter, or ginger ale and sweet potato butter…the list is endless!
Better yet, cook it on low without any special flavoring or liquid and then glaze with some yummy bbq sauce or whiskey sauce or maple glaze.
For such a strong flavored meat…that cured ham…it sure can take a lot more flavor the more you cook it!