Quite a few years ago, I concocted a recipe for Ham that became the very first Food Writing I ever did.
It was published in Saveur Magazine in 1995 in a story I wrote titled: “The Ham Gambit: How Carlotta fed 30 people for $6.99”. Much to my great pleasure, Saveur then published the recipe in their superb “Saveur Cooks Authentic American” (Chronicle Books 1998). And the first thing I knew the New York Times singled out my ham as the reason alone to buy the $40. Book.
Here’s what reviewer Suzanne Hamlin said when it appeared in the Times on September 30, 1998.
“The recipe for Monte’s Ham alone may be worth the price of admission. Monte Mathews, an Advertising Executive, writes: “When I first came to New York, a friend gave me two pieces of advice: first, if you wear an expensive watch, you can wear anything else you want; second when you have a lot of people over, buy a ham.” Mr. Mathews already had the watch, but he was flummoxed by the ham until he went to a party and saw hordes of guests tucking into a giant, glistening specimen. Begging his hostess for the secret, she disclosed “Buy a ham, glaze the hell out of it and cook it for a long, long time.” Cooked to his instructions, (I) served (Monte’s Ham) to a group of ten with professed discerning palates. (In truth, cut into half-inch slices, the ham would serve 30 or more.) They went crazy for Monte’s Ham, clamoring for seconds and thirds, grabbing nubbins from the platter, and boldly demanding to take home the leftovers. The big, deeply bronzed beauty was truly delicious–succulent and moist on the inside, sweetly glazed and crisp on the outside.” I am sure you can well imagine how very pleased I was with the review which appeared on my Mother’s birthday of all days.
Eleven years later, I changed how I felt about “Cheap Ham”
When I left Advertising, I looked for something worthwhile to do. I hit upon the idea of an internet-based business selling Monte’s Ham and Glaze. But I made a major shift in direction: I discovered that factory-farmed hams are probably one of the great travesties in American farming. I won’t go into the details but please, when you buy ham, check on its origins. And if it’s too cheap, it’s almost bound to have been raised in a perfectly awful way. Look for “Animal Welfare Approved” or “Certified Humane Raised and Handled” labels. Don’t buy Supermarket ham unless you know where it came from and how it was raised. That’s a Christmas gift I’d like you to give me in return for this recipe.
I found my hams in Upstate New York at Purdy & Sons a family-owned business that had been curing their hams the same way for over 50 years.
Purdy & Son’s hams were superb and early on they achieved quite a degree of success. Picked up by Williams-Sonoma, they were served at Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter. And there lay the problem. Try as I might, I could not sell a ham at any other time. As my writing career took off and ham sales were limited to three back-breaking sales periods, I faced a grim reality. My holidays were given over to ham. And the other reality was that the only business that made money off Monte’s Ham was the United Parcel Service. So I made the decision to give up selling Monte’s Ham. The Glaze, however, is another story, and don’t be surprised if it resurfaces here. I can’t say that I miss selling hams. I’m free to travel and write. And anytime I want, I can haul out the recipe and make a nice big, beautifully glazed Monte’s Ham.
I send all of my terrifically loyal readers my very best wishes for the Happiest of Christmases and a superb holiday season surrounded by your friends and family.
Here is the recipe for Monte’s Ham and Glaze:
Monte's Ham and Glaze
The ham that made me famous can you famous for your ham too! Great for Buffets, big family gatherings and, of course, Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas
- 15 lb. smoked ham on the bone
- 1 1⁄2 cups orange marmalade
- 1 cup dijon mustard
- 1 1⁄2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
- 1 tbsp. whole cloves
- Step 1 Preheat oven to 300°. Trim tough outer skin and excess fat from ham. Place ham, meat side down, in a large roasting pan, and score, making crosshatch incisions with a sharp knife. Roast for 2 hours.
- Step 2 While the ham cooks, make the glaze. Combine orange marmalade, mustard, and brown sugar in a medium bowl. Stud ham with whole cloves (stick one clove at the intersection of each crosshatch), then brush with glaze and return to oven.
- Step 3 Remove ham from oven and increase heat to 350°.
- Step 4 Cook ham another 1 1⁄2 hours, brushing with glaze at least 3 times. Transfer to a cutting board or platter and allow to rest for about 30 minutes. Carve and serve warm or at room temperature.
9 thoughts on “For Christmas! The original recipe for Monte’s Ham and Glaze”
Thanks for all the wonderful recipes and stories through out the year. Merry Christmas to Andrew and you and the happiest New Year.
Thank you so much Lauren, for taking the time to write. That means the world to us! XOXO Monte
Still have my Saveur cookbook, thanks again. Keep a container of the sauce in my refrig and am famous for my ham biscuits usiing the sauce. Many blessings to you and yours this wonderful season. M.A.
Dear Mary Alice, I am so pleased to hear from you and I am so delighted you still use the cookbook! I have such wonderful memories of you and think of you often. Have a Blessed Christmas…I am sending you our Christmas letter! XOXO Dick
I have used this recipe COUNTLESS times over the years, after first seeing it in Saveur magazine when it was first published. I have too upped my ham game, but I will say one of my favorite things at a party is to see how “polite” people are at first and are literally picking it off the bone by the end. 🙂 I do make one change to the recipe, and that is to use apricot preserves instead of orange marmalade. It’s just the best!
How kind of you to take the time to write. Nothing makes me happier than knowing how much this recipe gets used. It was the first recipe I ever invented and it is the first one ever published. Thank you Kendra!
Can I use this glaze on a ham cooked in a crock pot? I need my oven free for other foods, so I need to use a crockpot for my ham. Thanks and Happy Thanksgiving!
Hello Susan, Since I have never cooked a ham in a crockpot, I can’t definitively say that you can use the glaze in one. However, if you’ve done so before and had success, go right ahead. However, one of the most wonderful things about this glaze is what it does to the fat cap–makes it crispy and wonderfully tasty. So if you can find some time or place for it in the oven/broiler to finish it, I think you would be a lot happier with the results. Bon Appetit! Monte
Thanks for the reply. I did use a crock pot last year for the very first time. I was very skeptical on how it would turn out. I was worried I would end up with a big ham flavored piece of rubber, lol. I, and all my guests were shocked at how tasty and juicy the ham turned out. However, I love the idea of finishing it off in the oven to crisp the outside. I definitely will do that! Thanks!