I’m part-Pom, have lived in Sydney for 15 years, and have never quite worked out what’s the score on the Christmas lunch front. On those Christmas days when i’ve cooked turkey and trimmings, it’s ended up being a sweltering 30-degree-plus day and i’ve spent hours melting in the kitchen in a self-induced, frazzled, festive food-a-thon that i can’t wait to end. When i’ve scaled back the festive prep and decided to picnic it, it’s ended up drizzling outside and Plan B of picnicking indoors just hasn’t cut the mustard (hot English, please!). If i’ve been relying on the BBQ — spent days marinating great hunks of meat in advance — you can guarantee the heavens opened and temperamental Sydney has rained on my festive parade.
This year i’m putting my trust in another Christmas hero. Ham. Not the naff pre-sliced stuff, but a big, fat leg of it that has been smothered in ingredients that catch and caramelise when baked in the oven to deep-brown gloriousness.
I’ve never quite got what all the ham fuss was about, to be honest. When Aussies waxed lyrical about legs of ham, the Pom in me has dutifully tuned out and thought “get yourself a turkey, stick it in your cake-hole, and shut up”.
But having just done a Christmas ham practice run, i think i’ve seen the sparkling, flashing, festive light.
Ham can be picnic-boxed up, carved on a platter and served alongside all those heavenly summer salads that lend themselves to long Sydney, boozy lunches. It can star beside roast turkey, or sail solo through a Christmas lunch — the hero in its own right.
I was gifted a 100 percent Australian, free-range leg of porkiness from Haverick Meats, and i’ve pinched this recipe for Glazed Ham with Cumberland Sauce from Mike McEnearney of Kitchen by Mike. Bring on Christmas lunch!
1 whole free range Haverick Meats leg of — cooked
30 whole spice cloves
1 jar of Hot English mustard
150g brown sugar
150ml Cumberland Sauce (see below)
Pre heat oven 220c
Remove the skin of the ham by placing your hand under the skin and sliding it between the fat and the skin/
Trim the fat off with a knife.
Cut a lattice in the fat, being careful not to cut into the meat.
Place a clove at each intersection.
Rub the ham with mustard paste.
Sprinkle with sugar.
Bake on a cake rack sitting in a baking dish with a puddle of water in the bottom.
Bake until the sugar has melted and lightly caramelised with slightly burnt edges.
Remove from the oven and rest for 10 minutes.
3 small shallots
125g red wine or port
250g red currant jelly
Finely chop the shallots and blanch in hot water.
Zest the orange and lemon in to fine strips and blanch in hot water.
Slice ginger into fine julienne and combine with the juice of both fruits.
Mix together all ingredients (minus the blanching waters) in a small pan, and simmer until it has reduced in volume by half and is syrupy in texture.
Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper and allow to cool.
Serve with slices of glazed leg ham.