Dubbed the “dean of American cookery” by the New York Times, James Beard documented and influenced cooking throughout the U.S. In his 1972 cookbook, James Beard’s American Cookery, he paid special attention to watermelon pickles, a traditional “sweet meat” made from the white part of watermelon rind, sugar, vinegar, and spices.
Beard suggested studding a ham with cloves then, while it bakes, basting it often with the spiced, sugary syrup from a jar of watermelon pickles. When served, the ham platter can be decorated with pieces of watermelon pickle. This is especially attractive it the pickles are cut into uniform, decorative shapes, such as diamonds or stars. Small cookie cutters or canape cutters can do this well. Some of the shaped pickles also can be used decorate the ham, using cloves to “pin” them in place.
Note: Watermelon pickles are available in the specialty sections of many grocery stores.