Saturday, December 22, 2012

Stop! HAMmer Time!

I’m up uncharacteristically early on a Saturday morning. It’s in a good cause; I’m making the most of the early morning’s coolness, before the 33-degree heat sets in, to glaze the Christmas ham.

Naked hambition

It’s become a ritual ever since my good friend Amanda taught me the recipe a few years ago. I’d always been intimidated at the thought of undertaking a glazed ham, but under Amanda’s expert tutelage I triumphed in the kitchen.

My ham has proved so popular with my clan that I’ve been asked to make a bigger one this year. It weighs more than my dog, who has been keeping me company in the kitchen, hoping some scraps will fall her way.

Tiffy the kitchen elf

She obviously agrees with this great Simpson’s scene…

Homer: Are you saying you're never going to eat any animal again? What about bacon?
Lisa: No.
Homer: Ham?
Lisa: No.
Homer: Pork chops?
Lisa: Dad, those all come from the same animal.
Homer: Heh heh heh. Ooh, yeah, right, Lisa. A wonderful, magical animal.

I’m almost embarrassed by how easy ham glazing is. The first part, removing the skin from the ham is the hardest bit. There really is no other way than to use your hands, so take a deep breath, make a small incision under the skin and gradually peel it off. It is worth it.

Next assemble your troops.   Here is my A Team all ready for battle! Major Ballantine leads Captain Marmalade and Corporals Mustard, Sugar, Cinnamon and Cloves.

The A Team

So once more unto the breach my friends…

·       1 jar of English breakfast marmalade (500 grams, the chunkier the better)
·       Half a cup of whisky, or as generous a slosh as you like
·       2 heaped tablespoons Dijon mustard (or whatever mustard you prefer/have to hand)
·       2 tablespoons of brown sugar
·       2 cinnamon sticks

Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan; bring to a simmer while stirring. Keep warm during cooking to stop the glaze hardening.

Pre-heat oven to a low temperature (150 degrees)

Cut cross diagonal lines to fat of the ham (don't cut into the meat) to create diamond patterns

Baste ham with warm glaze all over

Stud all over with cloves

Put on a rack in a large over dish to catch drippings

Place ham in oven, cook on a slow heat, basting every 20-30 minutes until all the glaze is used. 

Cook for 1.5-2 hours.

Remove from oven, let cool, then place in a ham bag.

Rinse the ham bag once a day to keep the cloth moist and the ham fresh. 

The smell from the stove top is heavenly, the warm aroma of spices mingling with the malt of the whisky and the orange scent is divine, and to me this is what Christmas should smell like!

Hambitions realised

Now the really hard part, resisting eating it till Christmas Day…


  1. And it has just met its untimely end recently - is now a stock which has made a potato and leek soup with some left over and a little pile of braised ham - all ready for a weekend creation.