Slow-Cooked Ham in Cider Gravy

Cider Ham

Have I told you about our favorite vendor at the Ithaca Farmers’ Market? Her name is Sarah, and she represents Autumn’s Harvest nearly every week at the market. Apparently she is a lot of people’s favorite, as she often sells out of eggs and chicken and certain sausages early in the weekend.  So immediately upon our arrival at the market, we beeline it to the far end of the pavilion to the Autumn’s Harvest stand, crossing our fingers that she still has some eggs left.

We may go to the stand quickly, but our visits are rarely short. We linger at the stand, chatting with Sarah about the weather, the farm, the recipes I made with her sausage or turkey or pork the week before, the ones I plan to make in the coming week. She suggests which sausage would be good in homemade ravioli, and sends us home with two kinds at a discount when we can’t decide. We ask about the turkeys, one of which we have pre-ordered for Thanksgiving, and she invites us out to the farm for a visit sometime.

We don’t just love Autumn’s Harvest because Sarah is so incredibly nice.  They are incredibly open as to which animals are heritage breeds and which aren’t. They also have the best sausage, incredible bacon burgers, plump whole chickens and lovely turkey legs.

Cider Ham 3

Last week, they had “mini hams,” just 1 -1 1/2 pounds, trim and lean. Since she was out of ground pork, I scratched a dinner from my original meal plan and replaced it with a mini ham, slow cooked in cider and maple syrup, which I then thickened into a gravy.

Slow-Cooked Ham in Cider Gravy

Prep Time: 4 minutes

Cook Time: 6 hours

Yield: 4-8 servings, depending on the size of the ham

Slow-Cooked Ham in Cider Gravy

By the end of the cooking time, the ham will be so tender it will flake apart as you slice it. The slices may not be perfectly neat, but smaller pieces just give you more surface area for the cider gravy! Speaking of gravy, look for a cider that is made solely of pressed fruit, with no additives or sweetener.


  • 1 1-4 pound ham
  • 2 cups apple cider, unsweetened
  • 3/4 cups maple syrup
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch


  1. Place the ham in a crockpot and cover with the cider and syrup. Cook on LOW for 6-8 hours.
  2. Transfer the ham to a plate. I find it easiest to move all the liquid to a large 4-cup measuring cup to more easily add liquid to the gravy a bit at a time.
  3. Whisk the cornstarch with 1/2 cup of the cider on the stove-top over low heat until smooth. Increase the heat to medium-low. Whisking continuously, add the cider a little bit at a time, until it is all in the gravy. Keep whisking as the gravy bubbles until it is thickened. Serve with the ham.

Make Ahead and Storage

If you have excess gravy, serve it over mashed potatoes, or tightly seal it in a freezer bag and freeze.

Maple Syrup from Vermont sent me product and compensated me for this post, but all opinions within this post are my own.  I really do love maple syrup!

Creamy Indian Lentils

Lentil Dal 3

When it comes to weeknight meals, I’d much rather throw something in the crockpot in the morning to cook for 8 hours while I work than stand near the stove for 2 hours at a time.  Especially if I’m going to get back on a regular workout schedule, rather just fitting it in on light work days…not exactly conducive to health or developing good habits.

One of the items on my 101 in 1001 list is to practice Pilates twice a week for four months.  I fell out of practice over the holidays, and lost any progress I may have made in my first few lessons back.  But twice a week for four months means practicing at least 36 times before May 18.  Which means that on 36 days, we’ll be depending on my preplanning super star skills!  I’m going to be relying on crockpot meals or quick dinners so that I have time to work, workout and, you know, relax on the occasional evening.

And when the end result is creamy, spicy lentils, that’s even better.  To make this a full meal, I roasted some cauliflower and baked up some naan in the last half hour, after adding the butter and milk.

Lentil Dal 2

Creamy Indian Lentils

Prep Time: 1 minute

Cook Time: 8 hours, 30 minutes

Yield: 6-8 servings

Serve with naan and roasted cauliflower. Adapted for the slow cooker from Saveur's The New Comfort Food


  • 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 2" piece ginger, peeled
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 6 1/4 cups water
  • 2 cups black lentils
  • 1/2 cup dried kidney beans
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons garam masala
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup light cream


  1. In a large saucepan over low heat, toss the onions with 2 teaspoons of canola oil. Cook, stirring regularly, until the onions turn brown and caramelize, about 20 minutes.
  2. In the meantime, puree the garlic, ginger, cumin, coriander, chili powder and 1/4 cup water to create a paste.
  3. Stir the lentils, beans and remaining oil in the bowl of a crockpot to coat the legumes.
  4. Add the spice paste, onions, tomato sauce, garam masala and paprika to the crockpot. Top with the rest of the water and stir well.
  5. Cook on Low for 8-10 hours.
  6. Thirty minutes before serving, stir in the butter and milk.
  7. Serve drizzled with a bit of light cream.

Make Ahead and Storage

To save time: caramelize the onions and create the spice paste up to four days in advance. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.