Spiced crumbed Christ­mas ham

The Observer Food Monthly - - Contents - Richard H Turner

The se­cret to mak­ing sure your ham is amaz­ing is to buy well, so this means buy­ing a proper dry-cured ham from a proper free range and happy pig. The tim­ings and mea­sure­ments be­low are for a 4kg ham, which will feed around 10-12 peo­ple. Make sure you’ve got a pot large enough to poach it in and that it can fit in your oven! Serves 10-12 whole ham 1, about 4kg mire­poix a se­lec­tion of roughly chopped car­rots, onions, cel­ery and leek fag­got of herbs con­tain­ing cel­ery, bay leaf and strips of orange peel, bound with strips of leek spice bag con­tain­ing a few each of fresh gin­ger pieces, whole cloves and mace blades, and 1 cin­na­mon stick brown bread 300g clear honey 150ml wa­ter 300ml but­ter 50g salt English mus­tard 3 tbsp Christ­mas spice mix­ture 5g (see be­low)

For the Christ­mas spice mix

ground nut­meg ground cin­na­mon ground gin­ger ground clove  Direc­tions If us­ing a proper dry-cured English ham, soak it for 2 hours be­fore poach­ing gen­tly in a large, snug pot for 20 min­utes per kilo with the mire­poix, the herbs and the spice bag.

When the time’s up, re­move from the heat and al­low to cool for half an hour in the cook­ing liquor – this will al­low the flavours to re­ally pen­e­trate the meat.

Pre­heat your oven to 160C/ gas mark 3. Care­fully re­move the ham to a board and re­move the skin. De­pend­ing on the breed and qual­ity of the pig, you should have a nice layer of fat. Re­move some of this fat, leav­ing about 1cm.

Mean­while, for the Christ­mas spice mix, com­bine the in­gre­di­ents to taste – I like to go heavy on nut­meg and light on clove but each to their own.

Score the fat left on the meat in a criss-cross fash­ion and, while it’s moist, sea­son gen­er­ously with the Christ­mas spice mix.

Cut the crusts off the brown bread and rip into small pieces. Melt the but­ter over a medium heat until it be­gins to brown, add the clear honey and the bread and sea­son with a lit­tle salt. Lightly toast until golden and let cool be­fore blend­ing to a fine crumb.

Place the hot ham into a roast­ing tray with 300ml of wa­ter and brush with the mus­tard, dust with spice mix and coat gen­er­ously with the honey bread­crumbs be­fore plac­ing in the oven.

Roast for 20 min­utes per kilo. When the time is up, re­move from the oven and trans­fer the ham to a clean dish to rest for 30 min­utes be­fore thinly slic­ing with a ra­zor­sharp ham knife. Serve with clas­sic roast gar­nishes and re­serve any left­overs for cold cuts on Box­ing Day.

Spiced brown bread­crumbed Christ­mas ham

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