You've ordered the free-range ham (or you're going to beg your butcher to dip into their last-minute stash). But then what? Glazing a prepared ham brings a personal cook's touch to an iconic Christmas centrepiece and, of course, adds flavours that complement the savoury notes of the meat.
A glazed ham looks gorgeous, too: shimmering, bounteous and festive. There's also the bonus that you'll most likely have leftovers to enjoy well beyond the Boxing Day Test.
Before applying any glaze, remove the rind (your butcher can do this) and score the fat to create small squares or diamonds. Fruit, spices and sugar or honey are traditional glaze ingredients, with alcohol often added for extra bite and depth of flavour. Orange juice, mustard and honey are a classic combination. For a simple glaze, smother scored ham with mustard then coat the mustard with sugar. Nigella Lawson swears by poaching ham in Coca-Cola before slathering in a treacle glaze. Whatever your preferred glaze, bake the ham in a moderate oven for about half an hour or until the glaze is glossy and the ham is hot. You can then serve it hot, warm or cold.
Carving ham on the bone can be stressful. Cover the shank end with foil or a tea towel and use it as a handle, then use the longest, thinnest knife you own. Start by cutting out a wedge of meat about a third of the way from the shank, then cut thin slices to expand the wedge so that each slice includes some of the glaze. If you get the wobbles, cut a section from underneath the ham to create a flat surface - carver's rights mean that this is yours to nibble on as you slice.
Keep the left-over ham in the fridge in a damp pillowcase. Replace the cloth every few days and your ham will be good for
about two weeks. Apart from great sandwiches, left-over ham can be used in quiches and frittatas, chopped and tossed through a pasta salad, sliced thickly and fried to serve with scrambled eggs, and blitzed with mustard to form a spreadable paste for toast.
Pineapple jam-glazed ham
Darren Purchese and Cath Claringbold, from Melbourne's Burch & Purchese Sweet Studio, have come up with this spectacular pineapple glaze for Christmas ham. It's sweet, fragrant, spicy, bitey and entirely worth trying.
1 ham on the bone
60 g castor sugar
½ vanilla pod, seeds scraped
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 star anise, crushed
1 birdseye chilli, chopped
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
60ml pineapple juice
450 g pineapple, in 1.5cm dice
400 g castor sugar
150 g cider
Whole cloves, extra, as required
1. Ask your butcher to remove the outer skin of the ham and score the fat into squares for glazing. Place the ham onto a large baking tray. Place a large heavy-bottomed saucepan over a medium heat and allow the pan to heat for 30 seconds. Add 60 grams of sugar and stir with a heat-resistant spoon to obtain a golden caramel.
2. Once the sugar has dissolved, add the vanilla seeds, ginger, black pepper, star anise, chilli, cinnamon, clove and the pineapple juice. Turn the heat down to low and cook for a minute before adding the pineapple flesh and the 400 grams of sugar.
3. Turn the heat back up to medium and cook, stirring continuously until the mixture boils. Cook for a further 3 minutes, turn the heat off and leave the jam to cool in the pan until cold.
4. Preheat oven to 180 degrees.
5. Transfer the jam to a food processor or blender and blend until some of the larger pieces of pineapple have broken down. Mix the jam with the cider and rub well onto the scored ham. Push cloves into the centre of each cross-sectioned square.
6. Place the ham into the preheated oven for 25 minutes to melt and glaze the jam. Remove from the oven and allow the ham to cool before slicing at the table.
Recipe serves 8 (with plenty of ham left over)
Lobster san choy bao
1 small iceberg lettuce
70ml shaoxing wine
40ml light soy sauce
40ml oyster sauce
25 g white sugar
20 g sesame oil
60 g peanut oil
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
25 g ginger, julienned
75 g Chinese lup cheong sausage, sliced (from Asian grocers)
6 shitake mushrooms, sliced (fresh or rehydrated)
125 grams carrot, in ½ cm dice
150 grams spring onions, trim to white part only, sliced
8 garlic chives, finely chopped
150 grams Chinese cabbage, thinly sliced
1 birdseye chilli, chopped
1 crayfish, cooked tail meat only
handful coriander sprigs to garnish
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds to garnish
Carefully separate and trim 8 lettuce leaves to form cups and put them into the refrigerator to crisp up. In a small bowl, mix the shaoxing wine, soy and oyster sauces, sugar and sesame oil. Set aside.
Heat the peanut oil in a hot wok. Add the garlic and ginger and stir-fry for a minute before adding the sausage and mushrooms. Continue to cook for 30 seconds. Pour in the sauce mix and stir-fry for a minute.
Chop the crayfish flesh into small pieces and add this to the mix. Continue to cook to heat through then add the carrot, spring onion, garlic chives, Chinese cabbage and chilli. Cook until wilted, mixing well then transfer the mix to a warm serving bowl. Garnish the mix with the coriander and sesame seeds.
To serve, spoon the mix into the lettuce cups, roll them up and eat them with your hands.
Mango tarte tatin
1 large mango
200 g unsalted butter
1 vanilla pod
puff pastry sheet, 24cm diameter, 3mm thick
Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Press the butter into the base of a 20cm diameter cast iron, heavy based saucepan or tatin tin. Sprinkle the sugar evenly on top of the butter. Split the vanilla pod and cross the two halves over the butter and the sugar.
Peel and cut the cheeks from around the mango stone. Thickly slice the mango flesh and arrange on top of the sugar, butter and vanilla in the pan. Place the puff pastry over the top of the fruit and tuck the pastry down the sides of the pan.
Place the pan on the barbecue or stovetop over a medium heat and cook, shaking the pan continuously to avoid sticking. Use a spoon to baste the pastry with the syrup that bubbles up to ensure the pastry crisps once it is in the oven.
When the syrup in the pan starts to turn a light amber colour (approximately 12 minutes) remove the pan from the heat and place in the preheated oven for 15 minutes.
Leave to cool for 5 minutes before inverting the tart onto a serving platter. Slice and serve warm with ice cream (coconut ice cream is perfect!).