Christmas Ham

The Christmas Ham

Our family has had a leg of ham for Christmas for as long as I  can remember.  However,  we’ve only been baking and glazing it for a relatively short time – maybe 5 or 6 years. I think it’s definitely worth it, although it does add extra complexity to the meal as you have *another* sizeable piece of meat to cook (we’d normally have chicken or turkey as well)  and it’s usually got to be cooked at a slightly lower temperature.

This year we uncomplicated it a bit, as I  volunteered to bake the ham at my place and the bring it to my parents’ for Christmas dinner.  However,  we also complicated it a bit by choosing to buy an eight kilo ham.

We don’t normally get an 8 kilo ham – I’d guess 4-5 kilos is the norm.  However,  this year we bought our ham from Cash and Carry (magical fairytale land) and while the hams were very cheap,  they were also very big – full leg hams and the 8.3 kg one we found was the smallest there.  Once home, I had to check to make sure the ham would actually fit in both the tray I had (just, a bit of overhang)  and indeed the oven itself.  And it did, just.  I normally like to choose a different glaze each year,  though they do tend to be some combination of sugar, orange juice and mustard. This year I didn’t look too far,  and used the recipe in the December 2008 Australian Good Food Magazine. After laughing hysterically at their suggestion of buying a 4 kg picnic ham for managability,  I  removed the rind, scored the fat, decorated it with cloves, and made up double the quantity of their glaze recipe (3/4 c orange juice, 1 c brown sugar, 2 tsp ground ginger, 2 tsp dry mustard powder – I used pre-prepared dijon instead – all stirred on low heat until sugar dissolves). [1]

One interesting thing they suggested was baking the ham (180 deg or 160 dec fan-forced) for about 45 minutes before glazing,  as I think this might give better definition to the scored fat.  However,  I didn’t do this,  partly because I didn’t read it,  but also because I had stuffing and sushi to be getting on with and I just wanted the ham cooking. I was a bit worried with how long it should be baked.  The ham is cooked already,  but it does need heating through, and you’ve got to try an make sure the glaze doesn’t burn too much.  I  played it by ear (eye)  mostly,  but it got a couple of hours with foil covering it and basting every 30 minutes,  and then another hour or so uncovered ( except for those bits that were already browned sufficiently) with more basting.

We transported it to my mothers covered in foil and packed in a strong plastic bag that I’d serendipitously recieved whilst buying a shirt for one of my brothers the day before.  The foil and plastic stopped any spills and also kept it warm until we were ready to eat.  Altogether it was a resounding success!

The Christmas HamThe Christmas HamThe Christmas HamThe Christmas Ham

The Christmas HamThe Christmas HamThe Christmas Ham

[1] I do like the traditional glaze, but the mag also has a couple of alternatives that I might try in future – stout, brown sugar and cardamom, or perhaps marmalade and star anise.

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