Ham is often the centerpiece of special holiday dinners. Whether you bake a whole ham for a crowd or a half ham for an intimate family gathering, garnishes turn it into an elegant and visually appealing focal point of the meal. The garnishes can mirror the flavor of your glaze, serve mainly as adornments or complement the meal's side dishes.
Instead of glazing your ham, you can infuse it with flavor with much simpler and less time-consuming techniques. Use the sharpest, non-serrated knife in the kitchen to create a one- to two-inch diamond pattern on the fatty side of the ham. Stick a whole clove at each point of the diamond. Not only will your ham look beautiful, the taste of the cloves infuses the meat with a spicy flavor that plays well against the ham's saltiness. Decorating the exterior of the ham with drained, canned pineapple circles imparts to the surface a light sweetness and nicely caramelizes as the ham bakes. Secure the pineapple slices to the ham with the stems on maraschino cherries.
Decoratively arrange fruit around the baked ham after you transfer it to a serving platter. Dried peaches, apricots, cherries and pineapple are attractive and complement the flavor of the ham. Prunes and currants are also pretty and tasty fruit garnishes. Place small bunches of grapes at the base of the ham, interspersed with fresh strawberries, cherries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries or cranberries, to add beauty and a light aroma to the presentation. For a tropical theme, surround the ham with decoratively carved fresh kiwi, mango and pineapple. Surround the ham with sugar-coated fruit in vibrant colors and twisted and tied citrus rinds for holiday dinners.
Big, bold vegetables artfully arranged around a ham showcase it as the star of the meal and create a cornucopia of color on your dinner table. Use kale and leafy lettuce leaves to line the serving platter and place the ham in the center for dramatic staging. Surrounding the ham with different types and colors of squash is enticing and attractive, as is a mixture of bright green Brussels sprouts and brilliant orange-hued baby carrots. Encircle the ham with a mixture of fresh-cut green, yellow and red peppers to dress up a springtime table.
Spices, Herbs and Nuts
Spices, fresh herbs and nuts are simple garnishes that quickly and easily improve the appearance of a ham. Sprigs of fresh rosemary and thyme along with bunches of fragrant, fresh sage and mint add a heady, gourmet touch. Artfully display cinnamon sticks and pine cones mixed with unshelled pecans and walnuts to add homey, old-fashioned finesse to the table.
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