Monday, 16 December 2013

H is for Ham

If there is anything you do because you've read this blog, this should be top of your list.

This for me is a life saver over the festive period.  

It provides for continental breakfasts, sandwiches for my ever-hungry step-sons, chunks for pea and ham soup, and even a dinner when it first comes out of the oven.  And if I do have any left (and this is unusual) then I slice up the remaining joint into really thick slices and freeze it between layers of greaseproof paper to use as needed.

  • The largest joint of unsmoked gammon that will fit in your biggest pan
  • 1 large bottle of full sugar cola (no need for a brand)
  • 1 onion, peeled and chopped into quarters
  • 1 carrot, scrubbed and snapped into two
  • 1 stick of celery, cleaned and snapped into two
  • 150gms packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tblspns English mustard
  • 2 tblspns whisky / bourbon / orange juice

  1. Put the ham (still in its net) in a pan and cover it with cold water.  If it doesn't quite then it's fine
  2. Bring to the boil on the stovetop
  3. Once it's boiled, drain off the water and make sure that there is no remaining puffy scum left on the ham or in the pan
  4. Replace in the pan and if necessary pack out with the onion, celery and carrot.  If they don't fit in the pan, it's not a problem
  5. Pour over the cola to cover the joint* and bring the pan to the boil again
  6. Once it's boiled, turn down the temperature to have the liquid simmering as gently as possible
  7. Leave to simmer for 40 mins per kilo MINUS 35 mins. You may need to top up the cola every now and then.  If you run out of cola, water is fine
  8. In the meantime, line a baking tray with multiple layers of tinfoil so it doesn't tear (this is important)
  9. At the end of the simmering time, heat up your oven to 240°C
  10. Take the ham off the stove and leave to cool for 10 mins so as to be able to remove the net
  11. Skewer the ham through the middle in a cross using two BBQ skewers otherwise the ham will unfold during the oven time.
  12. Mix the sugar, liquid and mustard together until it is completely smooth and there are no lumps in the sugar (otherwise these will burn and cause unsightly black spots on the rind)
  13. Put the ham carefully into your lined tin (taking care not to tear the foil with the skewers), rind side up and score into a diamond pattern / stud with cloves as desired (I never bother)
  14. Spoon over the glaze making sure all the outer surfaces are coated
  15. Put the ham in the oven for 35 mins
  16. Take out and leave to cool^ before moving the ham onto a carving plate and pulling out the skewers
  17. Fold up the tin foil around the now black/burned sticky glaze in the bottom, bringing the edges together to form a tight parcel that won't see any of the glaze leak out. Lining the tin means no washing up...and trust me...trying to get off that burned glaze is quite a task
  18. Once cool, you can leave the ham in the fridge covered with a foil tent for up to 10 days, carving slices/chunks off as needed
* If your ham is taller than your pan then rotate the ham while it's simmering to ensure the ham cooks throughout.
^ It's at this point that I will often carve off a couple of generous slices and serve with Mac'N'Cheese or a poached egg and chips depending on how I'm feeling for dinner for two.

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