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Christmas ham

Australian Gourmet Traveller recipe for Christmas ham

By Rodney Dunn
  • Serves 20
  • 20 mins preparation
  • 1 hr cooking

It isn't Christmas without a ham, but for baking, not just any old ham will do. Hams differ greatly in quality; you want something that's naturally smoked, and with a thick layer of insulating fat to protect the meat during cooking. It's the glaze, too, that makes it really special.

Typically a mixture of sugar, mustard and lime or lemon juice, a glaze is a simple and really delicious complement to the salt and smoke of a good ham. Bear in mind a few key points and you'll soon be glazing with the best of them. Removing the skin in a single piece is important as it can be used later in the storage of the ham. Glazing is a technique that requires some attention: its success depends on building the layers of the glaze during the cooking process, like lacquering a fine piece of furniture. The sugar in the glaze will caramelise to a deep mahogany – you should aim to get the colouring as even as possible. A little water in the base of the roasting pan will prevent any excess glaze burning as it runs off the ham while baking.

To store your ham, buy a ham bag or use a clean old pillowcase. The ham bag or pillowcase should be rinsed in cold water and a little vinegar and wrung out every few days to prevent bacteria forming.

Ingredients

  • 8 kg leg ham (see note)
  • To stud: whole cloves
  • ½ cup Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 220 gm brown sugar (1 cup)
  • 2 tsp ground ginger

Method

Main
  • 1
    Preheat oven to 180C. Using your hands, gently peel back the skin from the leg to the shank being careful not to tear the fat. Using a sharp knife score the skin around the shank, remove the skin in a single piece and reserve.
  • 2
    Using a sharp knife score the fat in lines running diagonal to the leg about 4cm apart. Repeat scoring in the opposite direction to create a diamond pattern.
  • 3
    Place a clove in the centre of each diamond. Place ham on a wire rack inside a baking dish and pour 2cm of water into baking dish.
  • 4
    In a bowl combine remaining ingredients and season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Brush half the glaze over the ham and place in the oven. Cook for 1 hour, brushing frequently with remaining glaze, until deep golden in colour. Serve sliced glazed ham with <a href="pickled_onion_wedges.htm">pickled onion wedges</a>.

Notes

The ham leg we have chosen for this recipe is from a Kurobuta pig. It has a thick layer of fat and even marbling which prevents it drying out during baking.

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  • Author: Rodney Dunn