Three glaze recipes to take your festive feast from ho-hum to ham-azing.
In the middle of November, my aunt suggested in our family WhatsApp group that Christmas lunch should go meat-free in acknowledgement of climate change. I froze at my desk where I’d taken a moment to procrastinate. While I support her sentiment and am trying to eat less meat – and when I do eat meat, ensure it is sustainably farmed – I wasn’t ready for a meat-free Christmas.
It feels like there are increasingly few times each year when you can unashamedly engage in life’s pleasures, and I’m not ready to give up my Christmas ham. It has meaning beyond the delicious saltiness of the flesh and the sweet fattiness of the glaze. It reminds me of my late grandfather who would hold court from the serving table, giant knife and carving fork in hand, serving out perfect slices of ham. It’s been a forum for Mum’s experimentation in the kitchen, with a slightly more exotic glaze arriving each year. The ham has always been at the centre of my Christmas Day indulgence, when I pride myself on knowing exactly the number of slices required to knock me out on the couch by 4pm, two pages into a new book, without ever feeling nauseous. Colonial New Zealand has such a scarcity of good food traditions, I think I’ll hold on to Christmas ham and its meaning until the day of the apocalypse.
But I do think hams can suffer from repetition, even if you’re eating them only once a year (although it may go on for a month). Who actually likes the flavour of cloves, and who can actually be bothered individually pinning 70 of the ugly little flower buds into the ham?
So we asked our friends from Freedom Farms for some of their favourite alternative glaze recipes. They’ve also provided some tips on how to get the best out of your ham this Christmas (spoiler: don’t throw away the skin!). The method is the same for each of the following three recipes, so the ingredients for each are listed first. Each recipe makes enough to glaze half a champagne ham.
– Simon Day
- ¼ cup gin (we use Scapegrace)
- ¼ cup Campari
- ¼ cup sweet vermouth
- ½ cup caster sugar
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- ¼ cup low-pulp orange juice (we like the Homegrown brand)
TAMARIND & GINGER GLAZE
- 150ml Jenny’s Tamarind Chutney (nationwide stockists listed here)
- 150ml Hakanoa Ginger Syrup (nationwide stockists listed here)
- 2 cups frozen cranberries
- ¼ cup runny honey
- 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (just use a pinch or omit if this worries you – the heat just balances out the sweetness, it’s not supposed to be spicy
Note – take to this glaze with a stick blender after all the berries have given up their juices and you’ve reduced it a bit.
Wash your hands. Pop the glaze ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat and stir to dissolve any sugars. Gently simmer for 7-10 minutes until slightly reduced. Allow to cool while you prep the ham.
Preheat the oven to 160°C. To remove the skin, slide your fingers under the thick skin and wiggle them around to loosen it, taking care to leave as much of the soft white fat intact as possible (the fat is where the flavour lives, so don’t be stingy!). Try to take the skin off in nice big pieces – and don’t throw it in the bin.
With a sharp knife, score the ham in a cross-hatch pattern – you just want to cut through the fat, not the meat below. Scoring the ham looks pretty, but it also helps keep the glaze from sliding off when you bake it.
Pop the removed skin in your baking pan, and place the ham on top of it. Add a little water to the pan… just enough to cover the skin without touching the ham much. This will keep any glaze drips from burning in the pan, and keep your ham glossy.
Glaze the ham with a pastry brush – we recommend basting it with glaze a couple of times during the bake to build up a nice glossy finish. Right before finishing in the oven spoon some of the lovely pan juices over the ham – this will give the ham an impressive sheen.
Cooking time varies depending on the size of your ham – as a rule of thumb we suggest 10 minutes per kilo to get the glaze well set up.
Make someone else do the dishes.
For more glazing action, check out Emerald and Sophie Gilmour’s how-to video from last year:
TIPS FOR GETTING THE MOST OUT OF YOUR HAM
One of the most common questions we get is, “How long can I keep the ham after Christmas Day?” There is no straightforward answer to this. But to get the best out of your ham, keep it wrapped in a pillowcase or with a clean tea towel in the fridge. Don’t wrap it in plastic because it will get sweaty and gross. When you are taking it out of the fridge for leftovers, take it out, carve off what you need, and put it straight back in the fridge – please don’t leave it sitting out on the bench for ages as this is where things start to go wrong. Keeping it on the bottom shelf, above the vege cooler, is also a good idea, as that has the most stable temperature of the fridge. Basically, get creative with your leftovers and get through it as quickly as possible for maximum enjoyment.
This content was created in paid partnership with Freedom Farms. Learn more about our partnerships here.
The Spinoff’s food content is brought to you by Freedom Farms. They believe talking about food is nearly as much fun as eating it, and they’re excited to facilitate some good conversations around food provenance in Aotearoa New Zealand.
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