Living with me means you will be subjected to scenes like these: walking into the kitchen to see me singing “Because you know it’s all about that baste, all about that baste, no trouble.” at a ham. That is how my Saturday went. That is how poor Chris’ Saturday went. I sang to my ham and it turned out wonderful. Life lesson learned – turn any possible pop song into your cooking mantra. Food just tastes better that way.
As the festive season is well and truly upon us, up our asses and frankly walking all over us it’s time to take back control. It’s time to bake the baddest, most beautifully succulent, sweet and savory of all hams. This ham needs minimal lovin’ for maximum flavour. We poach our ham in a fragrant sweet broth, then follow up it with short bake in the oven where we regularly smother it with a sweet, sticky and spicy glaze.
And for real, it’s all about that baste.
The key to this recipe is our poaching broth. We pack it full of aromatic fresh herbs, citrus fruits, deep hitting spices and the holy trinity of good stocks – carrot, celery and onion. Our herbs come in the form of fresh thyme and freshly picked bay, we throw in peppercorns and star anise for the added depth of flavour and follow this all of with a big shaking of fresh cranberries and fresh orange segments.
Don’t skimp on the ingredients at this stage. Go hard or go put your ham back in the fridge. This is where we add not only moisture to ensure our ham remains succulent, but it’s a chance for us to really embed those flavours while we poach our ham. At this stage you can add any other fresh hard herbs or spices that take your fancy – rosemary, garlic cloves, whole cloves – embrace the ham and let your imagination run wild.
The final step towards ham heaven is the baste. Sticky, sweet, and just a little bite from the mustard. It’s store cupboard staples all whisked together and then lovely poured over our ham. A regular baste ensures you get the most out of your glaze so don’t neglect this little step.
Ingredients makes 1.6kg ham
Smoked ham, 1.6kg
Handful of whole cloves
For the broth
Carrot, top, tailed and sliced into big chunks
Onion, peeled and sliced into wedges
Celery stick, sliced into big chunks
Large handful of cranberries
Orange, stips of peel, juice and then cut into segments
5 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 fresh bay leaves, lightly crushed
1 star anise
1 teaspoon of salt
Cold water, enough to cover the ham
Honey and mustard glaze
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon grain mustard
1 tablespoon Worcester sauce
Plenty of cracked black pepper
1. Put on ‘I Follow Rivers – The Magician Remix’ by Lykke Li. Place a large pan, big enough to fit the ham and poaching ingredients, on the hob and place the ham inside. Place all the broth ingredients around the ham and then pour over enough cold water to cover. Turn the heat up to high and bring the broth to a boil.
2. Once the broth is boiling turn down to a simmer and leave for one hour for a ham that is 1.5/1.6kg big. If you have a bigger ham just cook for longer proportionately. Skim off any scum that rises to top.
3. Once the ham has cooked for an hour, take it out of the broth and place it on a tea-towel covered chopping board to help drain the meat. Leave the ham to cool for 15 minutes.
4. Pre-heat the oven to 200C (390F). With a sharp knife remove the skin from the ham, leaving a good layer of fat. Score the fat in a diamond pattern and stud cloves into each of the diamond points.
5. Mix all of the glaze ingredients, bar the honey, in a bowl and pour all over the ham. Cover the whole ham with the glaze, focusing on the fat. Spoon any glaze off the bottom of the pan and pour back on top. Generously drizzle honey over the entire ham.
6. Place in the oven for 45 minutes in total, but take out every 15 minutes to baste the ham with any glaze that falls onto the bottom of the pan.
7. Leave to cool completely before slicing. Keep stored in the fridge for 4-5 days and slice as needed.