Treat your family to something special this Christmas! Neven Maguire shares his tried and tested recipe for a Maple Glazed Ham from his latest cookbook, The Nation’s Favourite Food.
A traditional ham is the perfect choice if you’ve got hoards of visitors to feed so it’s especially good to have over the festive period. A certain crowd pleaser, it tastes equally good served hot or cold. Have you ever wondered what the difference is between ham, bacon and gammon? Bacon is cured pork; gammon is a hind leg cut of bacon and once this particular cut is cooked, it is called ham. Any leftovers from this ham or your turkey can be used in countless other dishes, such as in a creamy filling for vol-au-vents, in risottos or just the ham is excellent for a spaghetti carbonara, so there’s no waste – even the bone will make a wonderful stock.
5.25kg (11lb) leg of gammon (on the bone and skin on)
4 celery sticks, roughly chopped
2 onions, sliced
1 bunch fresh thyme
1 tbsp black peppercorns
200ml (7fl oz) Irish whiskey
200ml (7fl oz) maple syrup
1 tbsp ground allspice
2 tbsp each red currant jelly and balsamic vinegar
1 tsp whole cloves
1 ripe pineapple
1 tbsp caster sugar
1/2 large red chilli, seeded and finely chopped
2 tsp freshly grated root ginger
finely grated rind and juice of 1 lime
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp chopped fresh mint
1 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Although gammon is less salty nowadays, soaking is still a good idea. Place the gammon in a large pan and cover with cold water. Leave to soak for at least 6 hours or overnight is best, then drain.
Weigh the gammon joint and calculate the cooking time, allowing 20 minutes per 450g (1lb) plus 20 minutes – this joint should take about 4 hours. Place in a large pan and cover with water and bring to the boil, skimming off any scum. Add the celery, onion, thyme and peppercorns and return to the boil, then cover, reduce the heat and simmer until completely tender, occasionally skimming off any scum that rises to the top. If you are not sure about whether the gammon is properly cooked check the bone end – it should come away freely from the gammon joint. Drain and leave until cool enough to handle.
Preheat the oven to 180C (350F), Gas 4. Carefully peel away the skin, leaving the layer of white fat intact. Using a sharp knife, score the fat diagonally to make a diamond pattern, being careful not to cut into the meat. Place the whiskey in a pan with the maple syrup, ground allspice, redcurrant jelly and balsamic vinegar. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 10 minutes until slightly thickened. Stud the ham with the cloves and place in a large roasting tin with a little water to prevent the bottom from catching and burning. Brush a layer of the syrup all over the ham, reserving the remainder. Cook for 1 hour, brushing over another layer of the glaze every 15 minutes until it’s all gone. Remove the cooked ham from the oven, transfer to a serving platter and leave to rest for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the pineapple salsa. Peel and core the pineapple. Cut the flesh into 1cm (1/2in) dice and mix with the sugar. Heat a non-stick frying pan over a high heat, add the pineapple and cook quickly for about 2 minutes to caramelize lightly. Tip into a bowl, add the chilli, ginger, lime rind and juice, onion and herbs. Season to taste and set aside to allow the flavours to develop.
To serve, carve slices from one side of the ham, cutting diagonally to achieve an even thickness. When you reach the bone, insert the knife at a flatter angle and slice across the top of the bone. Turn over the leg to carve slices from the other sides. Arrange on plates with a spoonful of the pineapple salsa.
Recipe taken from The Nation’s Favourite Food, new cookbook by TV chef and restaurant owner, Neven Maguire.