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Saturday, 12 December 2009

Baked Ham with Honey & Mustard Glaze

This is a traditional and very versatile part of the Irish Christmas Dinner. Although the honey and mustard glaze is my preference, traditionally it would more likely have been just honey or brown sugar, if anything.

The really great thing about cooking a ham at Christmas, is that you also have loads of cold ham for sandwiches, for salads, to serve with cabbage and white sauce, for on pizzas, for almost anything in the days after the Big Dinner.

Here in Ireland (and in the UK) we have our Christmas Dinner on Christmas Day, usually around 1.30pm to 3.30pm. It lasts all afternoon and then in the evening we eat cold meats, cheeses, pickles, anything we have left over and we fancy !

I'm English living in Ireland for a good while now. I have noticed that basically the traditions are the same, but with a few interesting differences. Turkey and ham as the dual meats in the Christmas Dinner is one of them. In England we would have had just turkey (well we did in the part I come from).

So here is my baked ham recipe for this Christmas...

Christmas Baked Ham with Honey & Mustard Glaze

6 lb (2.5 kg) unsmoked best prime Ham Joint (this is from the hind legs)
Vegetable Stock Cube (I use Kallo organic stock cubes, but Knorr aren't bad either for taste. I really don't like Oxo cubes for cooking)
1 Onion
1 Carrot
2 Bay Leaves
Whole Peppercorns
2 tablespoons grainy Mustard (good quality)
3 tablespoons clear Honey
150ml Apple Juice
Fresh Black Pepper

1. Put the whole ham (gammon) joint into a large saucepan and cover it with cold water. Leave the skin etc on it at this stage.

2. In a bowl dissolve the stock cube in 300ml of hot water.

3. Add the apple juice to the dissolved stock cube, as well as the onion (in large chunks), the carrot (large slices), the bay leaves and 12 whole peppercorns. Stir a small bit to mix.

4. Pour the stock, juice and veg mixture into the sauce pan with the ham.

5. Place the lid on the saucepan and bring it to the boil on the hob (top of the stove).

6. Once it is boiling, turn down the heat so that it simmers lightly. Simmer like this for 2.5 hours. Make sure you skew the lid slightly, so that the steam can escape.

7. After the 2.5 hours, cover it again and bring it to the boil slowly.

8. Once boiling, again reduce it to a simmer and gently cook it for another 1.5 hours.

9. Now allow the ham to cool in its liquid in the saucepan for 40 minutes.

10. Remove the ham from the liquid. Using a very sharp narrow knife (a fish filleting knife works), remove the skin and most of the fat underneath, leaving only a thin layer of fat.

11. With a sharp knife, cut a lattice (checkered) pattern into the ham (through the fat and into the meat).

12. Put the ham into a roasting dish, tray or pan.

13. In a small bowl mix together the honey, the mustard, and some freshly ground black pepper.

14. Spread this mix evenly over the exposed surface of the ham.

15. Cook the ham in the oven now for 30 minutes at a preheated 200C (gas mark 6), when it should be light brown on the surface and caramelised.

Serve with the dinner !

You can also bake a ham like this and use the meat cold.

You will be left with a ham and vegetable stock. You can use this as a stock base for soups and other dishes. I would skim off as much fat as possible from the stock, remove the bay leaves and freeze it in small portions ready for use.

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