Christmas feels a little different this year, but one thing remains certain – ham. Freedom Farm’s Anna King Shahab explains how to get the best results at Christmas lunch.
This content was created in paid partnership with Freedom Farms.
In these uncertain times, perfecting one small thing can help brighten the outlook somewhat. In the lead-up to this year’s festive season, a glazed ham makes a very good “one small thing”.
Whether you’re going all-out or keeping it low-key, hosting the family at yours or gathering in a park this year, acing the ham is something you can start working towards now. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t actually take much work – just a bit of forward thinking, which we’ve done for you.
Start with the origin
We source our hams from a group of farmers in Aotearoa who value the same things we do: a farming system that is kinder for farm animals, takes it easy on the environment, and supports a food system that we feel really, really proud of. And their product also tastes bloody delicious.
Freedom Farms hams are available now at your local grocery store, Farro or Moore Wilsons. If you can’t see any in the fridge, pop up to the butchery counter and ask when they’re expecting deliveries – and don’t forget to say a big thanks for supporting great local producers!
Which ham to buy?
We all know choice can be overwhelming. In terms of portion size, 180g per person for Champagne ham and 200g per person for ham on the bone is about right. You might like to mix and match… grab a large ham for the main event, and a half or quarter for casual get-togethers before or after the big day (because as we’ve previously documented, you can never have too much ham). Let’s break it down…
A more modern version of traditional ham on the bone, the ham is partially deboned (leaving just the hock) and massaged back into shape. It’s super tender, and takes up less room in your fridge. Our Freedom Farms Champagne hams come in three sizes:
Whole Champagne Ham 7-9kg – a crowd-pleaser
Half Champagne Ham 4-5kg – great for a smaller gathering
Quarter Champagne Ham approx. 2kg – perfect for picnics and wee get-togethers
Ham on the bone
Our traditional Christmas ham – we produce a limited run each festive season. Expect spectacular flavour imparted by cooking with the bone in. Our Freedom Farms hams on the bone come in two sizes:
Whole Ham on the Bone 8-10kg – a centrepiece for any big festive table
Half Ham on the Bone 4-5kg – big on flavour for smaller family get-togethers (and still enough for some sandwiches the next day).
Ham prep 101
All our hams are pre-cooked, but it’s so worth the minimal effort of glazing them for maximum impact in both looks and taste.
- Wash your hands.
- Remove the ham from the packaging and remove the brown tape from the hock, if there is one.
- If the ham has a hock, cut a line around the base of it so you can retain the skin on the hock when removing it from the rest of the ham.
- 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 look after it!). Try to take the skin off in nice big pieces – and don’t biff it!
- With a sharp knife, gently score the fat in a cross hatch pattern, gently so as not to cut into the meat below. Scoring looks pretty, but also helps keep the glaze from sliding off.
- Put the removed skin in a baking dish, and place the ham on top of it. Add a little water to the dish – enough to cover the skin without touching the ham too much. This prevents any glaze drips from burning in the pan and keeps your ham moist and glossy.
- Glaze the ham (see recipes below). We recommend basting the ham with extra glaze during cooking, and also spooning over some of the lovely pan juices to give the ham a nice sheen. Bake for 10 minutes per kilo at 160℃ to set the glaze, and 20 minutes per kilo if you want to serve your ham hot.
- Get someone else to do the dishes!
Safe hamming and lovely leftovers
- Freedom Farms hams are naturally wood-smoked and cooked. As per food regulations, we do have to use a preservative, but we use as little as possible.
- Whether you’re serving your ham hot or cold, don’t leave it out on the bench for too long and always pack up and chill leftovers right away.
- In the fridge, keep your ham on a shelf low down where the temperature is more stable, covered in a clean pillowcase (soaked in water with a dash of white vinegar if you’re worried about keeping it moist) and get through it as fast as you can.
- The bone from cooked hams is not safe for dogs – it can shatter and cause injuries to their throats and tummies. It’s brilliant for making stock, though – pop it in the freezer and pull it out when you’re feeling ready.
Glaze of glory
A glaze adds flavour, colour and texture – thank you, caramelisation! You’ll want about 1 cup of glaze for every 3kg of ham. You can get as experimental as you like with what goes in your glaze, but overall you’re looking to balance sweet and acid, and boost the depth with spices and possibly a lick of heat… the ham itself provides all the umami you need in this gathering of flavours. You can go large and add a lot of elements to your glaze, but simple three-ingredient glazes can be equally excellent.
- When making a glaze, cook the ingredients briefly to amalgamate them; too long and you’ll start caramelising the sugars before the main event!
- Apply glaze with a pastry brush – we recommend the silicon kind as it doesn’t shed bristles.
- On top of whatever glaze you are using, you can apply a final glaze of honey or maple syrup – brush a little on 10 minutes before the end of cooking time and you’ll be rewarded with an extra shiny finish.
See Bonnie Wong’s nifty illustrated guide to building a glaze, and here’s our go-to recipe for this year:
This quantity will glaze a half Champagne ham with perhaps a little left over. Double the recipe for whole hams. Leftover glaze can be kept in a jar in the fridge and used the next day – try brushing on French toast as it grills for your Boxing Day breakfast.
½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
⅔ cup Sweet Sting hot honey
⅓ cup golden rum*
⅓ cup apple cider vinegar
⅓ cup Old Yella mustard
1 clove garlic, grated
thumbnail-sized piece ginger, grated
½ teaspoon cinnamon
Put all the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, until it’s starting to thicken a little. Remove from the heat and use.
*If you like a pronounced spice profile, locally made Honest rum is perfect here!