Bourbon and Coke Ham and good foods for New Year's Day

 A ham for all seasons...

I am sure many of you baked a ham over the last couple of holidays, Thanksgiving and Christmas, and many will bake one for the New Year too. In the south, it is a tradition to have ham, or some type of pork served along with the likes of Hoppin' John, White Rice, Collards, Turnips or other greens and cornbread of course.

FYI... in the south, the symbolic pig served on New Year's Day has many meanings. For instance, a pig cannot turn it's head to look backwards without completely turning it's body around, thus to us a pig represents progress, as in always rooting and looking ahead. Pigs are symbolic in both wealth and health.
you can call me Mr. Prosperous
In the past harder times, owning a pig, one was considered better off than most as a family could eat and survive a harsh winter from the fatty meat of just one pig. In many cases, it was a matter of life and death. The most symbolic 'superstitious' thing we believe in is that eating pork on New Year's day will bring us prosperity. You see, to us, eating ham, and lots of it to the point of gluttony, as in 'being a pig' will bring about wealth. Some even think the fatter the pig, the fatter the wallet and some folks believe eating pork on this day means they will never go hungry. 

Now the thing I dislike with most baked ham recipes is that most leave the skin and the thick layer of fat on the ham. Sure, I know it's left on for protection, (and mainly for the superstitious) to baste the ham and help retain moisture, but what I don't like is that all of that wonderful glaze, all of the crispy, succulence of flavor is removed for serving. To me, that's not acceptable. It's like serving a cake and then removing the icing for goodness sake.  

So of late, I have baked my hams in the oven using my method below, first cutting away the un-wanting skin and fats and basting often to retain juiciness. The taste for this ham and recipe is pretty much like I cook my Crocked Ham in the slow cooker. Enjoy!

Bourbon and Coke Ham

Allow the ham to come to room temperature in a cool location for about an hour or so. I like to wash mine under running water and pat dry placing a dry cloth over it as it comes around. Rather you prefer a butt or shank ham is up to you, I like both.
The ham today is about a 12 pound shank, however, I wrote the recipe for the first time I baked one using a 8 pounder. Increase ingredients as needed.

Combine in a small saucepan:

  • 2 teaspoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon bourbon

Bring to a simmer and allow bourbon to cook out reducing back to just the butter. Remove from heat and stir in:

  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar

Set aside and allow to cool.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Place the ham in a roasting pan directly on the bottom (no rack) of the pan. Notice I placed the ham unconventionally cut-side down. With a sharp knife, remove any skin and cut away the fat leaving only about 1/4-inch layer thickness of fat. Score the ham in a diamond pattern cutting into the meat to a depth not deeper than 1/2-inch.

To the saucepan containing the brown sugar reduction, stir in:

  • 2 tablespoons coarse grain mustard
  • 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish, pressed dry
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

Rub this mustard mixture all over the ham, bottom too, making sure to get into the cut crevices. Place ham in the oven on the middle lower rack. Immediately, turn temperature down to 325 and bake for 20 minutes.

Add into the roasting pan:

  • 1 -12 oz can of Coca-Cola
  • 1/4 cup of bourbon

underneath side of ham
Use a spoon to mix up the cola solution a bit and coat all of the ham's surface with this basting solution. Baste every 15 minutes ( I use a turkey baster). Cook the ham until the internal temperature is 165 degrees on a meat thermometer and the ham's surface is crispy and dark brown. (Mine took about 2 hours.) Add more cola if the liquid starts to evaporate away although it is fine not to have any remaining right at the end. Remove from oven, place a foil tent over for 15 minutes if serving right away or wrap in foil and let rest if serving time is more that 30 minutes away.
ham-bone stock

Be sure to save the ham-bone for a delicious stock.

Traditional Southern New Year's Foods and the Reasoning

The Triad for Good Fortune: Greens (dollar bills), Hoppin' John (coins), and Cornbread (gold). Also on menus: Ham (wealth/health), White Rice (success), Black Eyed-Peas (luck), Pot Likker (good mojo) and southern Cane Sugar Desserts (contentment).

Adding a shiny penny or dime to the pot of Hoppin' John ensures better fortune and luck. The person that receives it in their bowl will have the best of both in the coming year. Of course, swallowing it wouldn't be so lucky.

Avoid foods that will bring bad luck, such as chickens. Poultry scratches backwards which will cause one to dwell on the past or regret. Fowl, like good luck, could also fly away. Be careful of shrimp and lobster on this day as they too move backwards leading to setbacks.


  1. HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!! With a beautiful starting it off with this awesome HAM!

  2. I guess it lucky that I have already planned to serve ham on New Years and not poultry. Who knew all of the bad mojo I could have unwittingly been releasing!! Seriously, Drick, that ham looks wonderful. I can just imagine the taste.

  3. There's a pretty good chance that this will be on our table on New Year's. It looks amazing. I've always thought it was strange that the skin and that much fat were left on as well. I'm glad you addressed that! I have to admit that even though I live in the south now, I've never made the black-eyed peas or greens to celebrate the new year. Maybe that's why our luck hasn't been stellar to date? :)

  4. I wish I'd had your recipe for Thanksgiving. I'm going to follow your advice and remove the skin and fat. You are so right - the mustard glaze I used was removed with the fat, and it didn't penetrate the meat either. Have a wonderful new year!

  5. I just read an article about pork being considered lucky and prosperous for Chinese New Year :)Interesting how food and how/when we serve it can have so many read, and great recipe!
    Wishing you a most amazing 2012!

  6. That ham looks wonderful! As you may know, Italians also eat pork for New Years, in the form of a large sausage called cotechino or a stuffed trotter called zampone, *also* accompanied by a legume: lentils. The difference is it's the lentils which are said to bring prosperity, because they are shaped like coins.

    But it's funny to think how such different places and cultures can produce such similar traditions...

    Happy New Year and here's to another great year of cooking and eating!

  7. So glad I didn't make any shrimp dishes. lol I made this ham today and it was out of this world! The coke worked great! I followed the recipe pretty close, except I used Creole mustard, added a little cane syrup, and doubled the bourbon! Thanks for the great recipe and have a Happy New Year, cher! Cheers!

  8. What do you use the mix of butter sugar and bourbon for? The recipe doesn't say..

    1. Thanks bee83, I've made this ham recipe so many times, to me it made sense. Funny how leaving out one step will change a recipe - hope I have cleared it up for you...


Post a Comment

Popular Posts