If a ham is the ruler of the Christmas table, a well-made glaze is its crown. Here some of our leading culinary lights share their favourite formulas. It's brush-hour.
We asked some of Australia's top chefs how they'll glaze their ham this Christmas. The outcome? Some like it traditional, some like it a little radical, and some just like a drink between bastes. Whichever way you go, your Christmas table will be crowned with golden glowing glory this year thanks to their syrupy secrets. Let the basting begin.
Kylie Kwong -Billy Kwong
My favourite way to glaze a ham at Christmas is to combine several cups of organic honey with several tablespoons of organic tamari, a sprinkle of dried aniseed myrtle spice and Sichuan pepper, a generous splash of extra-virgin olive oil and a good handful of seeded quandong halves. Behold: the Kwong family's Australian-Chinese ham glaze!
Martin Benn -Sepia
As I'm from the old country, I still like a little tradition. But with a twist. As kids, we would often have gammon steak served with a ring of pineapple, so I like to glaze my ham with that idea in mind, but also include that sticky rich and spicy glaze factor. I barbecue 2 ripe pineapples, each cut into 6 wedges, until golden, then blend them until smooth and pass the purée through a fine sieve into a saucepan. Then I add 350gm muscovado sugar, 150gm maple syrup, 250ml malt whisky, 2 cinnamon quills, 8 cardamom pods and 50gm of skinned and chopped ginger. Then reduce the mixture until syrupy and remove the spices. Brush a scored and clove-studded ham with a little syrup, cover with foil and place in a 180C oven for 15 minutes. Lower the oven to 160C, remove the foil, brush with glaze and continue basting 4-5 more times every 8-10 minutes until the glaze is sticky and rich.
Dave Verheul -The Town Mouse
Fennel seed and dark beer glaze
For a skinless ham that weighs 5kg-6kg, I take two 375ml bottles of a nice stout, such as Abbotsford Invalid Stout, mix it with 150gm dark muscovado sugar, 100ml cabernet sauvignon vinegar and 1 tbsp toasted ground fennel seeds. Reduce the glaze by half, spoon it over the ham and bake it at 180C for 2½-3 hours, basting every 20 minutes.
O Tama Carey
Sri Lankan-Italian mustard glaze
We never really had a glazed ham at Christmas, but about five years ago my mum suddenly decided it was an essential part of Christmas Day. When I make the glaze I like to use about 2 cups of honey and a cup of pineapple juice, and I add a good splash of Marsala, a large pinch or two of toasted fennel seeds, some lemon peel and a good few tablespoons of Sri Lankan mustard. It's a bit Lanky-Italian fusion, but tasty.
Daniel Pepperell -Restaurant Hubert
Take 200ml Campari, 200ml maple syrup and 100ml apple cider vinegar. Combine all the ingredients and bring them to the boil, then simmer for 5 minutes. Bake the ham in an oven at 170C for about 1½ hours, glazing the entire ham with a brush every 30 minutes. And make sure to drink an Americano between glazes.
Ben Shewry -Attica
Governor-General's apricot glaze
I was working for the Governor-General of New Zealand when I first came up with this way to glaze ham and it's my favourite. Start by gently removing the skin. Score the fat lightly in a criss-cross pattern and stud it with plenty of cloves. I then combine a cup of apricot jam, a cup of brown sugar and ½ cup of Dijon mustard and spread the mixture evenly over the fat. Place the ham in a roasting tray with 1 cup water and ½ cup of orange juice and bake.
Guillaume Brahimi -Guillaume
My favourite way to glaze a ham is to mix together a good serving of brown sugar and maple syrup with some Dijon mustard and white wine vinegar. Brush a skinned ham with the mixture, spike it with some cloves and cook for almost 2 hours, glazing every 30 minutes.
Brent Savage -Cirrus
Ginger and apple glaze
I like this glaze because of its unique flavour and the way it works with the ham. The fenugreek ends up tasting of maple, which gives the glaze depth, without being too sweet. Use 80gm maltose as the base of the glaze, then add 500ml apple juice, 100ml white soy sauce, 40gm fenugreek seeds and 50gm finely chopped pickled ginger.
Andrew McConnell -Cutler & Co
Brown sugar glaze
I'm a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to Christmas hams, and Christmas is the only time I ever really cook with cloves. Occasionally, I may drop a couple of cloves into a pickling liquid through the year, but to me the flavour and aroma of clove equals Christmas. Every year I get the best ham I can get my hands on. I take off the skin, score the fat and stud the ham with cloves. I like to roast the ham on a wire rack suspended over a deep baking tray of water for about 1½ hours. To glaze it, I brush brown sugar syrup over it every 10 minutes as it roasts. To make the syrup, simmer ½ cup soft brown sugar with ½ cup orange juice. I always serve the ham with homemade Cumberland sauce spiked with plenty of mustard powder. To be honest, though, I don't know what I enjoy more - the ham on Christmas Day or the glazed ham toasted sandwich the next day.
Jonathan Barthelmess -The Apollo
Dad's ham glaze
This easy glaze is my favourite recipe. It's a twist on my father's recipe using pineapple and brown sugar, which gives the ham a sweet and sour flavour and cloves add depth and a spice component. I bring roughly 750ml each of dark beer and pineapple juice to the boil with about 500gm brown sugar, and simmer until it thickens slightly. I lightly score the top of the ham in a chequer pattern and put a clove in each square. Baste the ham with the mixture as often as possible until it's beautifully golden brown.
Dan Hong -Mr Wong
Honey, soy and Coca-Cola glaze
I reduce 2 litres of Coca-Cola to a syrupy glaze, then add 3 tbsp honey, the zest of 1 orange and 100ml soy sauce. I stir that to combine then brush it generously over scored ham and bake, basting every 5-10 minutes until the ham's nicely glazed.