It's hard to beat a well-dressed ham on the Christmas dinner table. But what if you want to glaze a ham and you've never done it before? Taking size and cost into consideration, a whole or even a half ham on the bone does not lend itself to experiment.
Just relax and give it a go. For a start, the ham is already cooked. All you are doing is "burnishing" the outside with an attractive - and delicious - finish. Follow a few basic rules and success will be yours.
For my favourite glaze I mix the juice and zest of an orange with 2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard and cup of brown sugar. How easy is that! First, remove the ham rind. Use a short sharp knife to get you started, then carefully run your fingers under the skin and peel it back, leaving a thick layer of fat.
Score the surface with the same knife, taking care not to cut all the way down to the meat.
Score lines one way across the fat at about 3-centimetre intervals then repeat the other way for a perfect diamond pattern.
While the oven is heating to 180 degrees Celsius, stud the ham with cloves. Either press into the centre of each diamond or at the points where the cuts intersect.
Brush the ham with half the glaze and place on a rack in a roasting tray. Bake for 30-40 minutes, basting two or three times with the rest of the glaze, until a rich shiny colour.
Allow to cool than store, loosely covered, in the coldest part of the refrigerator until you are ready to serve.
To carve, use a long, narrow, sharp knife. If you don't have a ham stand, place the ham on a cutting board and trim off 2 or 3 slices, parallel to its length, from the thin side of the ham.
Turn the ham so that it rests on the flat side you've just created.
Holding it firmly with a carving fork, start at the shank end and cut slices across the ham, down to the bone. Now cut parallel along the bone to release the slices, then arrange them on a serving platter. Turn ham and repeat process.
To store a ham leg, wrap it in a tea towel rinsed in water with a good splash of vinegar and place in the coldest part of the refrigerator. If you rinse the tea towel every couple of days, the ham will keep for up to a fortnight.
SIX EASY HAM GLAZES Orange
Mix juice and zest of 1 orange with 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard and cup brown sugar.
Melt 1 cup cranberry jelly and add 1 Tbsp wholegrain mustard.
Sweet and sour
Mix cup sweet chili sauce with 1 cup drained crushed pineapple.
Mix 1 cup maple syrup and cup Dijon mustard.
Mix 1 cup brown sugar with cup pineapple juice and 1 tsp mustard powder.
Mix 1 cup chunky marmalade and 2 Tbsp whisky or port.
- The Southland Times