- Sweet: Brown, rapadura and muscovado sugar, maple syrup, apricot jam, marmalade, cola, dessert wine, Marsala, honey, kecap manis, peach nectar
- Spice: Cloves, cinnamon, star anise, ginger, fennel seeds, allspice, cardamom, peppercorn, smoked paprika
- Acid: Apple cider vinegar, white wine vinegar, verjuice, pineapple, lime, orange and apple juice, rice vinegar
- Other additions: Citrus peel, beer, soy sauce, sake, fish sauce, mustard, whisky, bay leaves, makrut lime leaves, thyme
A sweet ingredient is the key flavour profile in a glaze. A little acid is often used to balance the sweetness and thin the glaze. When pairing a sweet flavour with an acidic flavour, try to keep the ingredients complementary. For example, for an Asian-style glaze, combine kecap manis with rice vinegar. A classic option might be brown sugar and pineapple juice or apple cider vinegar, or marmalade and orange juice. You'll need about 1½ cups of base glaze to coat an average-sized ham.
Certain spices – cloves, cinnamon, allspice – will add classic Christmas aroma and flavour to the base glaze. Use cloves for studding over the scored ham, or as a flavour accent in the glaze itself. A layer of savoury flavour can also be a nice addition, via ingredients such as mustard or soy sauce. Add small amounts to your base glaze to begin with, one teaspoon at a time, building gradually until you achieve
the desired depth of flavour.
Most glazes are cooked before use to dissolve any solid sugars and meld the flavours. Bring the glaze to a simmer in a saucepan over medium heat until the mixture is a thin syrupy consistency. Because you're building it up on your ham as it cooks, it will eventually create a lovely caramelised finish. Taste the glaze – the sweetness should be balanced by the acid and, as it reduces with each basting, it will become sweeter. If your ingredients are punchy and in liquid form to begin with, you may not need to heat the mixture first – just stir to combine in a bowl. A fruit juice will benefit from a little reduction on the stove first, whereas a smaller amount of vinegar can just be splashed in.
If you're happy with the flavour of your glaze, then glaze away – remove the skin from your ham and score the fat – this is decorative, but it also helps to build nice pockets of crusty glaze at the corners of each score mark. Heat the ham at about 200°C and brush at regular intervals for about 30 minutes. The hotter the ham gets as it cooks, the better the glaze will start to build and caramelise.