Hamming it up

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.

Screen shot 2014-12-23 at 1.00.02 PM

I had to get the photo taken before Someone started picking at the crispy bits at the back. And I don’t mean me…..

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….


19 thoughts on “Hamming it up

  1. It looks wonderful! We had only 5 (adults, and 2 children) eating with us on Sunday. I had my husband cut a pretty good hunk off our whole ham beforehand. That was the only part cooked up for that day. The rest cut parceled into smaller amounts and put in the freezer. I’ve read that ham doesn’t do well in the freezer, but in fact I’ve never had issues with it. Husband Jim and I will eat ham for months!

    Happy holidays to you, and many blessings in the new year.

    • katechiconi says:

      And the same to you! I too have no trouble with carved cooked ham in the freezer, and I use the scrappy bits and the bone for soup, small pieces for pizza, and the larger bits for meals. I’m waiting to see how much is left once the clan has fallen on this one like locusts!

  2. tialys says:

    That looks divine!
    I’ve just completed the annual hunt for the Christmas turkey in France. They favour seafood for their festive nosh so there are oysters galore and various mini beasts in shells making a futile attempt to escape from the fish counter but a good turkey is hard to find. Our first Christmas here, I ordered one from the local butcher and he jotted my name down in his little book but didn’t ask me how big I wanted it. When I questioned him about this, he said they were all around 3kg (isn’t that a big chicken??) and it would be enough. I did explain that, as I am English, we need to be eating turkey in its various forms for a week afterward but to no avail. Now it’s turkey for Christmas lunch, turkey sandwiches for tea and, if they’re lucky, a bit of relish for the dogs on Boxing Day.

    • katechiconi says:

      Oh, you can GET turkey here, but people seem to favour a more ad hoc approach. On the menu in Chiconia will be roast pork and applesauce, with the obligatory reef of crackling, this ham, barbecued chicken drumsticks, fresh king prawns, potato salad, roasted vegies, greens salad, peas and beans, Nutella mousse, sherry trifle and pavlova with mango, strawberries and passionfruit. If anyone can still move after that, I’m stuffing their faces with Christmas cake until they fall unconscious….

    • That happened to me way back, even though I’d ordered turkey for 10 people ++ + When I went to fetch it on Christmas Eve it was. as you’ve described, a big chicken. I declined to buy it and bought three guinea fowl instead. I later discovered that if you want a decent-sized turkey you have to go to a farm and they will fatten one one specially for you. The reason they have small turkeys in France is because the Christmas dinner consists of about 10 courses, of which the oysters are just the appetiser, followed by foiie gras, followed by etc etc etc. In Normandy traditionally they also have 12 desserts! There’s just the two of us this year, and we are invited to eat here, there and everywhere.

  3. Save me a slice – it looks amazing! Just the two of us for Christmas Day this year but I still seem to have bought waaay too much food!

  4. My family has never glazed a ham. I would like to try it one day. This year my husband voted for seafood – oysters, fish, chilli mussels. Not traditional, but food we love

    • katechiconi says:

      It was my first too. Aside from the pig products, we have king prawns making a guest appearance, and the poultry is way down the list with barbecue chicken drumsticks for the younger members. I like the sound of your Christmas feast, but I’d miss the more traditional stuff, myself.

  5. Conor Bofin says:

    Fantastic looking ham Kate. I’ll be t you will be having ham sandwiches well into the new year.
    Happy Christmas,

    • katechiconi says:

      I think the majority of it will get carved up and put into the freezer… The bone will make ham stock for either pea & ham soup or pumpkin soup. Not a scrap will be wasted.

  6. claire93 says:

    looks very yummy – have a great Christmas

  7. Looks yum ! I’ve never eaten it like this. Have a merry Christmas !!!

  8. Oh Apricity says:

    That looks absolutely delicious! Well done!

    • katechiconi says:

      Thank you, and welcome to Chiconia! I had a quick look at that baby blanket; I think your mum would be proud! I’m not at all expert at knitting or crochet, although I like to have a go – needles and thread are much more my thing.

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