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A Glazed Christmas Ham makes an impressive centrepiece for your Christmas Eve dinner and is surprisingly easy to make but do set aside some time for it.
You can be sure of one thing at our family Christmas, there will usually be a Glazed Ham and if so there will always be leftover ham in the fridge right up until the New Year. Not only does it make a superb supper, hot out of the oven when the glaze is sweet and warm and the ham falling away from the knife, but it also pays dividends cold from the fridge when you can’t face any more turkey but still fancy a sandwich.
We serve it up every year on Christmas Eve with a Warm Butternut Squash and Pomegranate Salad, a resplendent cheeseboard and copious quantities of mince pies. It sits alongside the Roast Turkey Christmas Lunch the next day as one of the two best meals we have each year. The great thing about it is that it really is a doddle to prepare which is essential when what you’re really doing in the kitchen is peeling potatoes, preparing veg, soaking bread for the bread sauce and brining turkey for the next day. The ham will sit happily in the stockpot with all its accoutrements simmering away for a few hours before you remove it, give it a final flourish of a glaze then stick it in the oven for 20 minutes.
The only slight concern might be if you forget to give your ham an initial boil with just a stockpot full of cold water to wash off all the excess salt. Just drain the water off and rinse the stockpot before you begin the recipe proper. It was a very unfortunate incident a few years ago when the ham was deemed inedible after this initial stage was missed, even though the butcher had told me it didn’t need pre-boiling. Do it anyway, despite butcher instructions. Our traditional Christmas Eve supper preparations would now not be complete without each member of the family individually poking their head into the kitchen to helpfully remind me to boil the ham up first. Even when preparing the ham for this post Luke came into the kitchen declaring ‘You know what you’ve forgotten don’t you.’ When I explained that no I had already done the pre-boil and the ham was now in its second boil with the rest of the ingredients, he harrumphed that I had obviously done it rather quickly. Don’t worry, dear reader, this mistake will never be repeated again, for your sanity don’t let it happen to you.
The family crowd which gathers when we pull the ham out of the oven, cheers and slides over for a cheeky slice before it hits the table. This is when Christmas truly seems to have arrived; sitting down at the dining table, a glass of fizz at our fingertips, the scent of cloves permeating the atmosphere and candlelight illuminating our supper. If we’re lucky we might have remembered to get extra crackers or even party poppers much to the child within’s delight and then it’s time to relax. Let’s hope the presents have all been wrapped and stored under the tree. All the hard work has been done as we wait for Father Christmas to arrive later that night.
Glazed Christmas Ham
- 4 kg unsmoked gammon
- 400 ml apple juice
- 500 ml cider
- 1 large onion - roughly chopped
- 2 sticks celery - roughly chopped
- 1 head fennel - roughly chopped
- 2 cloves garlic - lightly crushed
- small bunch of parsley stalks
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 star anise
- 1 tablepooon fennel seeds
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
- 2 tablespoons cloves
- 150 g redcurrant jelly*
- 2 teaspoons English mustard powder
- Place the ham in a large stockpot and cover with water then bring to a rolling boil.
- Remove the ham and pour out the water, giving the stockpot a rinse.
- Place the ham back into the stockpot and add all the ingredients (except the ones for the glaze) Top up with water if your ham isn’t quite covered.
- Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook for three hours.
- Remove the ham, but do not discard the cooking liquid as it makes excellent stock for a later use*.
- Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.
- Remove the string from the ham. Cut away the very outer skin from the ham, leaving the thick layer of fat that lies beneath.
- Make a large diamond pattern into the fat with a very sharp knife, being sure not to pierce the meat. Then place a clove into each diamond.
- Heat the ingredients for the glaze in a small saucepan until runny then brush half of the glaze all over the ham.
- Place in the oven and bake the ham for 10 minutes.
- Remove the ham, brush over the rest of the glaze then place back in the oven for a final 10 minutes.
- Serve the ham hot or cold, being careful to pick out the cloves before eating.