Why do we glaze ham? Done right, glazing takes ham from a humble stand-by to a show-stopping centrepiece on the Christmas table, adding layers of flavour along the way.
Sugar is what makes a glaze. Whether it's in the form of brown sugar, muscovado or honey, it caramelises to create that thick, syrupy sheen, which you then have the freedom to balance with spices, juices, vinegars or even booze for extra Christmas spirit.
First you need to remove the ham's skin and score the fat so the glaze seeps down into the meat. Taking off the skin also allows the fat to render. You can either first pour the glaze over the ham before putting it in the oven, or baste the ham regularly while it cooks, or both. Allow time for each layer of glaze to set before basting with another, as though you were applying coats of lacquer.
At first the glaze will not cover the ham very well, but as the liquids evaporate, the glaze thickens and the sugars caramelise with the meat.
Keep basting until you have a delicious, golden coating, but don't let it get to the point where the sugar crystallises and forms a crust.A ham needs about an hour in the oven to form a good glaze, basting as much as possible for the best result. Adding water to the base of the pan isn't a bad idea either - it stops the glaze from burning on the base of the ham.
Here are 10 glazed ham recipes from the GT food team for your inspiration: start with the base recipe at the bottom and then choose your favourite glaze for your Christmas menu.
Cherry and allspice glaze
Combine 350gm pitted cherries with 120ml maple syrup, 2 tbsp water, 2 tbsp Sherry vinegar, and a pinch each of ground cloves and cardamom in a saucepan and simmer until cherries release juice, and liquid thickens slightly (20-25 minutes). Place ham in a roasting pan and cook, basting occasionally, until glazed.
Ginger beer and hot English mustard glaze
Combine 750ml ginger beer, 2 tbsp hot English mustard, 55gm (1/4 cup) brown sugar, 1 tsp finely crushed green peppercorns and a pinch of ground ginger in a saucepan over medium heat and reduce until thickened slightly (20-30 minutes). Place ham in a roasting pan, pour ginger beer mixture over it and cook, basting occasionally, until golden and warmed through.
Char siu-style glaze
Combine 160gm hoisin sauce, 120gm honey, 2 tbsp light soy sauce, 2 tbsp Shaoxing wine, 1 tbsp fermented soy bean paste (available from Asian grocers) and ½ tsp five-spice in a bowl. Place ham in a roasting pan and baste with glaze as it roasts.
Spiced quince glaze
Stir 100gm quince paste, 60ml dry white wine, 2 tbsp apple juice, 1 tbsp Sherry vinegar and ½ tsp each ground cloves, ground cinnamon and ground allspice in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until melted and smooth. Add 160gm brown sugar and stir until dissolved. Place ham in a roasting pan, brush with half the quince glaze and roast, brushing occasionally with remaining quince glaze, until sticky, golden and warmed through.
Persian apricot glaze
Finely chop rind of 1 preserved lemon and combine in a bowl with 300gm smooth apricot jam, 120gm mild-flavoured honey, juice of 1 orange and 1 tsp ras el hanout spice blend (available from select delicatessens and Middle Eastern grocers). Whisk until smooth, then brush over ham and baste occasionally as it cooks.
Brown sugar spice glaze
Combine 150gm brown sugar, 60ml (1/4 cup) apple cider vinegar, 60gm Dijon mustard, 1 tsp ground allspice, and ¼ tsp each ground cardamom and cinnamon in a bowl, rub all over scored ham, place in a roasting pan and cook, basting occasionally, until golden.
Chipotle, lime and pineapple glaze
Combine chopped flesh of ½ pineapple with the juice of 2 limes, 180gm crushed light palm sugar and 2 jarred chipotle chillies in a blender. Pound 1 cup coriander and sea salt in a mortar and pestle, then add to pineapple mixture to taste. Baste ham as it roasts.
Spiced marmalade glaze
Process 250ml freshly squeezed orange juice, 120gm marmalade, 100ml golden rum, 2 tbsp coarsely chopped thyme, 1 golden shallot, 1 garlic clove, 1 fresh bay leaf and 1 habanero chilli in a food processor until very smooth, then season to taste. Place ham in a roasting pan and baste with glaze every 20 minutes.
Kecap manis and chilli glaze
Combine 250ml kecap manis with 60ml Chinkiang vinegar (available from Asian grocers), 1 tsp each dried chilli flakes and ground star anise, 3 crushed garlic cloves, and 2 tbsp fish sauce in a bowl, then baste ham as it roasts.
Coconut nectar, tamarind and chilli glaze
Combine 200ml coconut nectar (available from health-food shops), 1 long red chilli split lengthways, finely grated rind of 2 limes and 60ml water in a saucepan over medium heat. Reduce until slightly thickened (10-15 minutes), then add juice of 1 lime and 1 tsp tamarind concentrate (available from Asian grocers), and season to taste. Place ham in a roasting pan, pour glaze over it and roast, basting occasionally.