A Christmas ham is something of a tradition in my family. My dad cooks one every Christmas Eve to sit in the fridge and be gradually whittled away at over the festive period; it is bought out for buffets and used to make sandwiches and any remains are boiled to make stock. I don’t think that a festive buffet table is complete without a gleaming, clove-studded joint of gammon.
I was asked by OXO and Jimmy’s Farm if I would like to write a Christmas post in exchange for a selection of OXO products and a festive meat box, my fiance’s eyes lit up at the prospect of being sent £50 worth of meat so I couldn’t really refuse! Among the products I received were a casserole pan, which happened to be exactly the right size to cook the gammon in, and a mandoline slicer which came in very handy for making the gratin! I also replaced my old, useless peeler and garlic crusher, and broken salt and pepper mills… The festive meat box contained a gammon joint, shoulder of pork, several packets of bacon, chipolatas and sausage meat. Jimmy’s farm essentially operates as an online butcher, everything is delivered straight to your door and they have a wide range of meats and selection boxes; the Christmas boxes are handily delivered to you on the 23rd December, just in time to start your Christmas prep.
The meat came with a handy booklet detailing some cooking instructions, it recommended cooking the gammon in pineapple juice to keep it tender so I followed their advice, adding a few spices (it is Christmas, everything must contain spices); I based the glaze on a Nigella recipe, using ginger preserves and brown sugar with some mustard and cloves for a bit of heat. The glaze caramelises and goes fantastically sticky and shiny in the oven (make sure you line your tin with foil…it’s a b**ch to clean off); I scored the top of the ham in a diamond pattern and studded it with cloves as is traditional, though because there are ground cloves in the glaze there is no need to stud it as well if you don’t want to.
I served the ham with root vegetable gratin, which is one of my favourite sides, and is very adaptable, you can use whatever selection of root vegetables you like; I went for potatoes, sweet potatoes, parsnips and carrots, but celeriac, swede and butternut squash would all work well. You do need to slice the vegetables very thinly, which does take a while if you are doing it by hand (hence why the mandoline was so useful!), but the whole dish can be cooked in advance and then reheated when needed, it keeps well in the fridge. You then need nothing more than some greens and homemade cranberry sauce to complete the meal; alternatively, both dishes work well as part of a buffet spread, and the ham can be served hot or cold, any leftovers are great for sandwiches.
- Ginger Glazed Gammon:
- 1kg (2.2lb) gammon joint
- 1.5 lires pineapple (or apple) juice
- 2 star anise
- 3 cloves
- 6 peppercorns
- 2 bay leaves
- 175g (6oz) ginger preserves (or marmalade)
- 50g (firmly packed ¼ cup) dark brown soft sugar
- ¼ tsp ground cloves
- 1 tbsp hot english mustard
- cloves for studding (optional)
- Root Vegetable Gratin:
- 1.5kg (3.3lb) (unprepared weight) mixed root vegetables, I used 2 large potatoes, 2 large sweet potatoes, 2 large parsnips and 1 large carrot
- 2 fat cloves of garlic, crushed
- 300ml (3/4 + ½ cup) double cream
- 500ml (2 +1/8 cups) full fat milk
- generous pinch ground nutmeg
- ½ tsp dried thyme
- salt and pepper
- 100g (3.5 oz) pecorino romano, parmesan or grana padano cheese, grated
- Ginger Glazed Gammon:
- Place the gammon joint in a large pan, pour over the pineapple juice and top up with water so that the joint is at least two thirds covered. Add the spices and bay leaves. Bring up to the boil, cover and turn down the heat; cook at a gentle simmer for 1 and a half hours, or two if the joint was cold from the fridge; tuning it over halfway through. It should reach 65C/149F in the centre.
- Meanwhile, heat the oven to 220C/425F/gas mark 7 and prepare the glaze by simply mixing the ginger preserves, sugar, ground cloves and mustard together in a bowl.
- When the gammon is cooked, lift it out of the cooking liquid and place it in a roasting tray lined with tin foil (the glaze really sticks so the tin foil saves you some scrubbing). Use a sharp knife to cut off the skin, leaving the fat; it should come away easily. Score the fat in a diamond pattern and stud each diamond with a clove if you like.
- Pour over the glaze, making sure that the whole ham gets a thick coating, then bake for 15 minutes until the glaze is caramelised.
- Root Vegetable Gratin:
- Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/gas mark 5. Peel all of the vegetables and slice them very thinly, if you have a mandoline slicer, now is the time to use it!
- Place the sliced vegetables, milk, cream, garlic, nutmeg and thyme in a parge pan and season generously with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil then simmer for about 10 minutes until the vegetables are tender but not mushy.
- Remove from the heat and spread ⅓ of the vegetables in a large oven-proof dish; scatter over ⅓ of the cheese then spread over another third of the vegetables followed by another third of the cheese. Spread over the remaining vegetables and pour over and leftover liqiud then sprinkle over the rest of the cheese.
- Bake for about 30 minutes until golden and bubbling and the vegetables are completely soft; a knife should go in easily.
I am sharing this with Saucy Saturdays hosted by The Flavour Bender, Take Two Tapas, La Petit Chef and Mid-Life Croissant, Fabulous Foodie Fridays, Fiesta Friday hosted by Herbs Spices & Traditions and Kitchen Uncorked, Foodie FriDIY, Foodie Friends Friday, Friday Favourites and Friday Features