Ham is good. In fact, I never met a ham I didn’t like. Baked, steaked, minced, barbequed, fried, or boiled, all are spectacular and don’t forget their perfect partner, scalloped potatoes. Growing up in Mid-Century America, Sunday ham dinners were a ritual. Using the “leftovers” for one or more of the above options, the ham bone was always reserved for a savory bean or split pea soup. Mom truly got her mileage out of that Sunday ham. (Wham bam thank you HAM!)
For generations, my family would wrap the simple bone-in ham in crusty baguette style dough for holidays and special occasions. In doing a bit of food history research, I learned this has been a common practice in Europe for centuries. Residents of small villages would often bring their ham or fowl to the local bread maker and have them wrap it in pastry dough which they would then take home to bake. Quite simply, “en croute” indicates a food that has been wrapped in pastry dough and then baked in the oven. Interestingly, back then it was to keep the protein warm. Ham En Croute is moist and delicious as it’s steam roasted in bread dough.
This Ham En Croute recipe is perfect for Sunday dinner, brunch or any holiday gathering. And don’t be shy about serving this on your Easter buffet! It will definitely “WOW” your guests! Serve with a selection of petite diner rolls, mustards, spicy mayo, chutney and cornichons. And don’t forget to serve the baked baguette dough cut into small pieces as well. It’s very flavorful and perfectly holds a slice of this savory ham.
Bungalow Chef’s Ham En Croute
Serves 24 people or 40 if part of a buffet.
Ham Ingredients: 1-Bone in Ham (half ham) about 10-14 lb. (precooked city style ham) 1/2 cup stone ground mustard (more if needed) 1/2 cup brown sugar (more if needed)
Preparing the Ham: Remove any extra fat cover or rind, rinse well and dry with paper towels. Score the ham with a serrated knife in a crisscross pattern. Coat generously with the mustard and sprinkle the brown sugar over the ham. Place on a heavy gauge baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Place in the refrigerator while preparing the dough.
Baguette Dough Ingredients: 2 cups warm water (105 to 155 degrees) to activate the yeast. Be aware of your room and bowl temperature. It can affect yeast development. 2 envelopes of Fleischmann’s or Red Star dry yeast. 2 tablespoons granulated sugar 2 teaspoons table salt 1 teaspoon of cider vinegar or red wine vinegar 4 cups bread flour 2 cups of all-purpose flour for kneading and rolling out the dough (more if needed) 5 tablespoons of olive oil 2 sticks unsalted butter melted 2 tablespoons kosher salt, or more if needed
Preparing the Baguette Dough: Pour 2 cups of warm water into a large crock like bowl. Sprinkle the yeast and sugar into the bowl and stir to dissolve. Let stand in a warm location for 10 minutes. It will become frothy. Add the vinegar and salt then mix. Add 3 cups of the bread flour and mix well until combined. Then add the remaining bread flour and blend. Turn out on a floured (using the all-purpose flour) work surface. (I use a jumbo cutting board and knead until smooth and elastic adding more flour as needed.)
Coat a large crock like bowl with the olive oil. Add the baguette dough and roll over to coat with the oil.
Cover bowl with plastic wrap, top with a kitchen towel and place near a warm, draft free spot until the dough triples in volume (about 1.5 hours.)
Punch down dough to remove air then remove dough and place on a cutting board well dusted with all-purpose flour. Knead lightly then, using a rolling pin, roll the dough to 1/3-inch thickness. (Dust the rolling pin as needed with the flour.)
Encrusting the Ham: Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Remove the ham from the refrigerator and drape the baguette dough over the ham. Tuck the dough down to the bottom of the ham and press tightly. However, don’t wrap the dough under the ham. Cut off the remaining dough. Slice a few vents into the top and sides of the dough.
Melt the butter, brush the top of the dough liberally and sprinkle with the kosher salt.
Place in the oven for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees and continue to bake about 20 minutes per lb. Keep a watchful eye on the ham and if needed, cover the baguette crust with foil if the crust is browning to fast. Remove the ham when it reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees. I always use an instant read thermometer.
Remove the ham from the oven and let rest for 20 minutes. The aroma will be amazing! Using kitchen shears, cut one side of the dough from the base resting on the baking sheet. Place the ham on a cutting board, slice and enjoy. Any extra of the baked baguette dough can be placed next to the ham and used by guests to create mini sandwiches!