Today, I did battle with our ham.
I’m not really at home with very large chunks of meat. I do love a roast, but not on the epic scale of a whole pig’s leg, or a massive turkey, for example. My formative years in a large and hungry family were spent making much of little, getting three meals out of one chicken, that sort of thing, and I really lack the sort of solid experience that carefree management of this kind of Big Food requires. So when hands go up in favour of ham on the table at Christmas, my heart sinks slightly. It’s not just the preparation. I’m really bad at carving, too, and the Husband is not far behind. Whatever I do is approached with a little trepidation, a dash of pessimism and a sprinkling of stress to spice things up. Still, I’m normally accounted a good cook, and I was not ready to admit defeat.
So, to the ham. This monster was a raw smoked leg. After stripping the skin off and cutting the traditional diamond pattern in the remaining fat with a sharp knife, I decided to forego the also traditional cloves. There’s not much I dislike more than biting down hard on a hidden whole clove, and one or two always manage to escape, attracted to my plate like magnets. Instead, I’ve basted the beast with a mixture of my sister’s home made Seville orange marmalade, grain mustard, tamari, apple cider vinegar, ground cloves (hah! that’ll show ’em) and allspice, which has baked into a light mahogany glossy, aromatic glaze. In the bottom of the roasting tin was some sliced onion, which slowly released aroma and sizzled gently in the smokey ham fat and glaze drippings. I’m completely confident that this bonus food of the gods will find a home with the leftovers the day after Christmas.
After all that, it wasn’t hard, just fiddly, and there was lots of basting (after the first hour, I basted every 10 minutes for another half hour).
I’ll let you know how it tastes, but I’m pretty sure the guests won’t be holding back….