The secret to the perfect ham
Anyone who has had a slice of Christmas ham knows how crucial the delicious baked treat is to a Christmas dinner.
We met up with award-winning chef Lij Heron to help you bring some exciting flavours to your table this holiday season, including his recipe for Christmas ham glazed with sorrel, pimento and Scotch bonnet-infused. He also shared preparation tips to ensure you get the best results.
“People prepare their hams differently, but salt is one ingredient that should not be substituted. You have to add salt to it. Some people don’t, but remember it’s a flavour enhancer,” Chef Heron, who has worked in the culinary industry for 18 years told Food.
Describing the meat that’s cut from the thigh of a pig as a “comfort food” for the Yuletide season, follow his directions for delicious Christmas ham. And don’t forget, you’ll need mouth-watering sides to complement your fantastic ham.
CHINESE ROAST HAM
1.3kg smoked ham
2 peeled carrots
2 peeled onions
4 garlic cloves, bruised
3 celery sticks
2 bay leaves
4 sprigs of thyme
5 tablespoons garlic
GLAZE FOR HAM
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons mild chilli powder
21/2 tablespoons of five-spice powder
1/4 tablespoon ground cloves
100ml of soy sauce
150g of honey
1/4 tablespoon of salt
Cover ham with water and soak overnight in the fridge – this will reduce the saltiness. Drain, place in a pot and leave under cold running water for five minutes. Place one carrot and onion, two celery sticks and three garlic cloves in a large saucepan. Add the ham, bay leaf and thyme, and pour in enough water to cover. Place a lid on the pan and bring to the boil. Once boiling, turn down the heat and allow to simmer for three hours. Then, remove from the heat and allow to cool in the pan.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Combine all spices and salt to the bowl with the crushed cardamom and stir well to make the glaze. Then chop the remaining carrot, onion, celery and garlic and place in a deep roasting dish along with 250ml of water. Now, score the fat of the gammon in a large criss-cross pattern. Lay on top of the vegetables and brush all over with the glaze – be sure to use all of the mix as this will be your gravy. Finally, place in the oven for 11/2-2 hours, spooning the glaze over the ham every 15 minutes or so.
CHRISTMAS HAM GLAZED WITH SORREL, PIMENTO AND SCOTCH BONNET INFUSED
1 piece 15-pound ham pre smoked, boneless
2 cups honey
3 pieces Scotch bonnet pepper
1 cup sorrel juice
10 pieces clove
10 pieces pimento
½ cup cherry in red syrup juice
Roast the peppers in the oven at 350°F for 10 minutes. Remove from oven, remove the seeds then chop. Combine honey, pepper, clove, pimento, cherry juice. Split in half. One half pour over ham to marinated overnight.
To roast ham
Preheat oven at 320°F for 20 minutes. Place ham in container with the skin up then wrap in aluminum foil. Place in oven for 21/2 hours. Then turn the oven up to 350°F. Then baste the ham every 10 minutes for 30 minutes.