When I'm asked about my heritage, I reply that I am a mutt. I'm a little bit of everything: German, Irish, English, Dutch, and Welsh. I've always envied my friends who are 100% or 50% one thing or another. They have interesting traditions, languages and traditional food. None of my immediate grandparents are from other countries, and I've never visited any of my ancestors' home countries. Growing up, and even now, I have a hard time knowing which ethnicity to associate myself with.
Although my grandparent's didn't embrace our heritage very much, my mom has made sure we learn about and celebrate our roots. We embrace our Dutch background by celebrating Sinter Klaas Day, complete with Boterletters and gift-filled wooden shoes (klompen).
We also embrace our Irish roots with a few Irish meals a year. My family's favorite is Limerick Ham. I first discovered this recipe in the book Cooking the Irish Way. Limerick Ham's distinctive flavor comes from Juniper berries and branches used in the smoking process. I made this recipe for the first time several years ago on St. Patrick's Day. I didn't have Juniper berries on hand, so I decided to tweak the recipe a bit. It turned out a success, and has been a family favorite ever since! Everyone is Irish on St. Patrick's Day, but you don't have to wait until March, this Limerick Ham turns everyone Irish, all year round!
Keaton's Limerick Ham
1 8-10 pound smoked ham, bone in
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup cracker meal
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
3 cups apple cider
1. Preheat oven to 400
2. In a medium sized bowl, combine brown sugar, ground cloves, cracker meal, black pepper and cinnamon.
3. Place the ham in a large baking pan. Pour the cider over and around the ham. Pack the brown sugar mixture on the top and the sides of the ham.
4. Cover with foil and bake for 20 munutes per pound, about 3 1/2 hours. Half way through cooking time, spoon the apple cider in the bottom of the pan over the ham.
5. Let the ham sit for 5 minutes, slice and serve.