How hot is hot? It depends who you’re asking. When it comes to chile, we’ve got the (in)famous Scoville scale which measures spiciness or heat in SHU – Scoville heat units. The scale is named after Wilbur Lincoln Scoville, the man who invented it in 1912 and who died 80 years ago last month. His method was called the Scoville organoleptic test and was based on people sampling hot chiles.
Today, high-performance liquid chromatography is used to provide a more analytic method of determining chile pepper intensity. So you’ve got something like a bell pepper which is a zero on the index and on the other end a Carolina Reaper at over 1.5 million units. That’s a big difference.
So when chile powder says ‘hot’ or ‘mild’ what does it mean? It’s a guide – a helpful way to let you know what your taste buds are in for. But it all comes down to personal taste. One person’s ‘hot’ chile, is ‘mild’ to another. That’s why we say you be the judge. Start with a little and you can always add more.
Like our honey & chile glazed ham. The honey adds sweetness and soothes the chile heat. The cinnamon has both sweet and woody aromas, while the nutmeg adds warmth and heat with a hint of astringency to keep the glaze from being too cloying. Start with half a teaspoon of our hot chile and then by all means, add more to taste.
Like a lot of things in life, it’s all about balance. And in a year that’s felt off balance in so many ways – when we’ve been apart from our nearest and dearest –balance is sorely needed. And ham is sharing food. It’s welcoming and warm and hearty and celebratory. And as the days grow longer and hopefully life returns to something more normal, we feel it’s the perfect time to celebrate, remembering those we love the most.
Best wishes from our farm to your home.
Note: We adore Hays Honey, started by Ken Hays in 1970. His hives are happily at home in Bosque Farms, in the Rio Grande Valley in southern New Mexico. The bees collect pollen from whatever plants are in flower throughout the Spring, Summer and Fall so the honeys are constantly changing. Ken also mixes honeys to create his own unique – and delicious – blends, which are different every season. You’ll find a range of Hays Honey at Sichler’s. Let us know your favorite!
1 bone-in fully cooked spiral ham, about 8-9 lbs
4 Tbsp Hays honey
¼ tsp cinnamon
¾-1 Tbsp whole cloves
Place the ham in a roasting pan and stud with the whole cloves. Add several cups of water to the base of the pan – this will help keep the ham moist. Cover tightly with aluminium foil and warm according to the package instructions (it’s usually about 7-8 minutes per pound).
While the ham is in the oven, warm the honey with the cinnamon and red chile powder. Taste and add more chile powder if you’d like more heat.
When there are 20 minutes left in the warming time, remove the foil and spoon the glaze over the ham, encouraging it to run in between the slices. Place back in the oven for another 10 minutes.
For the last 10 minutes, crank up the heat so the glaze caramelizes on top. Keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn.
Remove from the oven, slice and serve. Any leftovers are sublime in a sandwich, baked with thinly sliced potatoes and cream for a gratin, or chopped and made into a hearty split pea soup.