I have not lived through a Christmas without ham. Whether we have it glazed or naked, warm or cold, it’s an integral part of Christmas and we wouldn’t be without it. Here’s my guide for choosing, glazing, carving and storing your Christmas ham.
Choosing a ham
First thing for Aussie readers – look for the Australian Pork symbol. That guarantees you that the pigs were grown here, and not imported. 65% of our pork small goods are imported. Regular readers of mine will know my issues with this and why I believe we should really be trying to buy local and humanely raised produce. The best person to ask is your butcher, and the best way to buy (I believe) is to order directly from them.
Preparing and cooking – a recipe for simple glazed ham
1 full leg ham
500g jar of marmalade or apricot jam
1 cup (250ml) orange juice
¼ cup dark soy sauce
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3 cloves garlic, crushed
Preheat oven to 180°C.
On the shank end of the ham leg, cut rind in a zigzag pattern. Don’t cut deeply into the meat – just go through the skin.
Carefully remove the rind from the fat end of the leg using your fingers. Slide your hand under the rind, leaving the fat intact on the meat. This leaves a nice rough surface on the fat which will hold the glaze.
Score the fat in a diamond pattern. It’s important to score into the fat but not into the meat – use a light touch. Place the ham in a baking dish. (Large!)In a saucepan, or in a microwave-safe jug in the microwave, heat the marinade ingredients until warm enough to mix well. Do not boil.
Baste the ham all over and place in the oven.
After 20-30 minutes reduce the temperature to 160*C and cook for a further 2 ½ hours. Baste the ham frequently during cooking – every 15 minutes or so if you can. Allow to rest before carving. It can rest overnight in the fridge if you like.
Carving the ham
Place the ham on the serving platter, on a spiked carving platter, or wherever you want to serve it from. To carve nicely, you need to cut a wedge out of the shank end of the ham. To do this, make a cut vertically to the bone a little above your zigzag pattern. Then cut a wedge out at a 45* angle. This chunk of ham can be sliced and laid on the platter.
From there, carefully slice the ham making sure that each piece has some of the delicious glaze on it.
Storing the ham
After everyone has had their fill, the ham needs to be kept in the fridge in a ham bag. This can be a purpose-made calico or muslin bag, or a pillow case, and it needs to be soaked in a weak vinegar solution. It’s best if all the glazed bits have been eaten off just so the ham bag doesn’t instantly turn glaze-coloured – but that’s not the end of the world. The bag needs to be rinsed and re-soaked in vinegar solution every three days or so, until the ham is used up. There are many schools of thought as to how long the ham will last after Christmas, some people say days, others say weeks, I say in my experience we can eat it for about a week if the bag is refreshed. Use your own common sense, give it the sniff test, make sure it’s not left out of the fridge for too long at a time. It can be frozen – but in my opinion it’s nowhere near as nice afterwards so best to eat it up while it’s good!
Stay tuned for my leftovers blog later this month, that will give you heaps of ideas of how to use up all that ham.