Celebrating National Bourbon Heritage Month
Celebrating National Bourbon Heritage MonthSeptember 4, 2012
In 2007, Senator Jim Bunning of Kentucky (bourbon’s birthplace) sponsored a bill proclaiming September National Bourbon Heritage Month, and the bill passed by unanimous consent. The designation calls for celebrating (responsibly, of course) bourbon as a uniquely native American spirit and the rich heritage and culture surrounding its production.
Photo: Johnny Autry
What can you do to take part? You could, of course, enjoy a well-made bourbon cocktail. You could treat yourself to a top quality bottle of Pappy Van Winkle. Or you could head over to the Kentucky Bourbon Festival in Bardstown, Kentucky, starting September 11, where you can experience and taste the rich history of American bourbon distillation in the state that produces 95 percent of the world’s bourbon.
Or you could work bourbon into your everyday home cooking for a festive change of pace. Bourbon works great in desserts, but it also adds complexity and flavor to savory dishes, where its taste—reminiscent of wood (oak and cedar), nuts (pecan and almonds), and spice (black pepper, tobacco, and cinnamon)—complements hearty dishes like grilled and roasted meats.
Take Virginia Willis’ recipe for Bourbon Baked Ham from her book Bon Appetit, Ya’ll, Recipes and Stories from Three Generations of Southern Cooking. The recipe starts with a ready-to-eat ham, which is then baked with a flavorful glaze of honey, sorghum syrup, and bourbon.
Bourbon Baked Ham
Serves 10 to 12
1 tbs. canola oil, plus more for the pan
Half of a semi-boneless, ready-to-eat ham (5 to 6 pounds), preferably shank end
1 cup honey (preferably tupelo, orange blossom, or sweet clover)
½ cup sorghum, cane syrup, or molasses
½ cup bourbon
¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tbs. Dijon mustard
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Brush a large roasting pan with some of the oil. To prepare the ham, remove the skin and fat. Using a sharp knife, make 1/4-inch-deep cuts in the meat in a diamond pattern. Place the ham in the prepared roasting pan. Meanwhile, to make the glaze, heat the honey, sorghum, bourbon, orange juice, and mustard in a saucepan over medium heat until melted and combined. Pour over the prepared ham the warm bourbon glaze. Transfer to the oven and cook, basting every 30 minutes or so with the glaze on the bottom of the pan, for 2 to 2 ½ hours, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest portion registers 140°F.
If the ham starts to overbrown, loosely tent with aluminum foil to prevent it from burning. Remove from the oven to a rack. Tent the ham loosely with aluminum foil and let it rest for 20 to 30 minutes to allow the juices to redistribute. Transfer to a cutting board, carve, and serve.
All September long we are going to highlight the very best of bourbon with G&G articles and photos, more recipes, and bourbon cocktail inspiration. Cheers!
Adapted with permission from Bon Appétit, Y’all: Recipes and Stories from Three Generations of Southern Cooking by Virginia Willis, copyright © 2008. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House.