What’s Christmas without the ham, the centrepiece of the festive feast and the perfect food for a hot summer’s day? With this in mind, don’t limit your ham eating to Christmas Day alone. A ham is the perfect way to feed a crowd over summer; glaze a ham, buy a swag of bread rolls, lay out your favourite condiments and you have an instant meal for a casual party. And then of course there are the leftovers which can be folded through scrambled eggs, served between slices of bread with chutney and your favourite cheese or mixed into a moreish potato salad.
The key to a great ham is a top-quality raw ingredient; a well-raised free-range pig with plenty of marbling through the leg will keep it moist during baking. Natural smoke is essential; ensure that liquid smoke has come nowhere near your ham.
The other key is a gorgeously sticky glaze which adds another dimension of flavour. The glaze can be as simple as mustard and sugar with an acid, such as lemon juice or vinegar, or a more complicated concoction of spices.
Scoring the ham’s fat layer allows the glaze to flavour more surface area and also makes for a striking presentation. The secret to a rich, even glaze is constant attention. Create a lacquer of layers by regularly applying the glaze throughout the cooking process.
Another cooking tip is to make sure that you have some water in the base of your roasting pan. This will prevent a burnt-on sticky mess, which is especially useful if you’re doing the washing up.
To store ham after the big day, you’ll need a ham bag or an old pillowslip. This should be rinsed in cold water and vinegar and wrung out every few days to prevent bacteria forming and keep the ham longer. It will keep best if stored whole rather than sliced.
The ham leg we’ve chosen to use for this recipe is from a Kurobuta pig. The thick layer of fat and even marbling through the leg naturally bastes the ham as it cooks, preventing it from drying out during the roasting process.