Question - What is a must have for you during Christmas? A leg ham, a turkey or a kilo of prawns? Seafood is undeniably the biggest seller here in Australia during the summer Christmas. For me (and also the Pom), is always about the meat but having said that, we actually haven't baked a whole leg ham for ages! Simply because there are only two of us in the household, baking a whole leg ham would be a silly idea, unless we are really looking forward to a "Ham 101" diet for the next few weeks.
This year we decided to celebrate Christmas in July with an epic Yulefest dinner feast and invited a whole truck load of food bloggers and friends coming up to Central Coast to join in the party. No doubt, the perfect excuse to put a monstrous leg ham as the centerpiece of our dinner.
The hunk of leg ham I bought is over 4kg and it was a snug fit in the oven. I already put the leg ham at the most bottom tray in the oven but the top part of the ham is still too close to the top element in the oven, hence the leg ham is a little bit charred on the top which is not much of a bigger deal, can be easily scraped off or you're like me, prefer that extra burned bitter smokiness. (Hello cancer!)
There are many over-the-top recipes out there on the internet with some requires more than 20 ingredients just for the glaze! I prefer a practical no fuss recipe, especially when I have to juggle with a few more dishes at the same time and running amok in the kitchen. You simply do not want more trouble for yourself when you have a big feast to prepare to feed 14 mouths.
The simplest yet delicious recipe I've found is Pete Evan's baked Christmas ham recipe which only uses apricot jam, star anise and cinnamon, a little bit of sherry and brown sugar. I omitted the star anise from the recipe because I think it can be a little overpowering and secondly, I DO NOT HAVE A MORTAR AND PESTLE AT HOME! Sacrilege I know.... BITE ME! Why? Because I strongly against buying a brand new one with no heritage value. I would much prefer to inherit the one that my mum has been using since before I was born. Yes I am a mortar and pestle nazi and can be very stubborn sometimes.
I also find it interesting that Pete Evan did not include cloves studs in the recipe. For me, a beautiful traditional leg ham has to have cloves studded on the diamond cuts. Instead of using mustard as a condiment serve as suggested in the recipe, why not add it to the glaze and pour it all over before serve?
I know there is still another 5 months before Christmas, but I assure you that this is a good recipe to keep in your repository for the rainy days. You'll thank me for it.
Funny how I find myself having Nigella Lawson moments after midnight now and again - sneaking into the kitchen in pitch black, opening the fridge door, cut a slice of leg ham and gobble it down before heading to bed. Except I don't have credit rolling in the foreground...
Christmas Apricot Glazed Ham [adapted from Pete Evan's Baked Christmas Ham recipe]Ingredients
1 large cold Leg of ham (I bought a 4kg smoked ham)
500 g good quality apricot jam
1 tablespoon Ground Cinnamon
1/2 cup or more brown sugar
1 1/2 cups Dry Sherry
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
a handful of cloves
1. Thin the apricot jam with a little sherry and heat until it becomes a sticky spread.
2. Prepare ham by lifting off skin but leaving the fat. Diamond cut the fat and cut the skin off the bone.
3. Rub ham well with cinnamon and stud with cloves each diamond.
4. Spread half of the apricot glaze over the ham (retain the rest for basting when cooking and dressing before serve).
5. Once ham is spread with the apricot glaze, press brown sugar over whole top of ham, making sure some sugar gets into diamond cuts.
6. With the ham in the roasting dish, add 2 centimeter of water and cook for one and a half hours on 200C, keep basting with more glaze every 20 minutes or so – careful not to burn. Make sure to save some of the glaze for dressing later.
7. Once cooked, let it stand for 30 minutes before carving. For best result, cook it overnight and serve cold or warm it up a little again in the oven over low heat.
8. Add wholegrain mustard to the remaining glaze and heat it up again. Pour over carved leg ham slices and is ready to serve.