Christmas Baked Ham
The day after Halloween, Ireland wakes up in a new atmosphere: the Christmas Season is coming.
Children start their count down, and shops and supermarkets are all decked with Christmassy themes, changing from skeletons, spiders, zombies to Santa, elves, Christmas trees in one night! Well, I must say, sometimes, they (Zombies and Santa) coexist side by side for a few days before Halloween.
There is a big sense of waiting in November, and families begin to pile up treats, chocolate, sweets, and crisps to get ready for Christmas Day. Gigantic frozen turkeys are on sale along with enormous hams.
Festive meals are more elaborate than the meals served all year round, and traditional special dishes are cooked for the occasion: roast stuffed turkey or goose, baked ham, Christmas pudding, mince pies and the incredibly rich and elaborately decorated Christmas cake.
I remember having a succulent baked ham on my first Irish Christmas menu. I won the joint of ham at the school raffle several days before Christmas, and I panicked: how to cook it, it was around 6 kg!
I dashed into the village bookshop and bought a good Irish cooking book to find the perfect recipe. I asked for advice from some friends too.
The following recipe is a good match between my friend’s one and the book’s one.
- Joint of Ham
- 1-2 onion peeled
- 1-2 large carrot
- 2 celery stalks
- 1 bay leaf
- 8 whole black peppercorns
- 500ml cider
for the glaze
- 1-2 whole cloves
- 2-3 tbsp Demerara sugar
- 1 teasp mustard powder
- 2 teasp honey
for the sauce
- 2 Brambley cookig apples,peeled, cored and chopped
- 300ml cider
- 1 teasp sugar
- 1 tbsp mustard
- 2 teasp butter
- Soak the ham overnight in cold water and change it twice.
- Place the soaked ham in a large pot with onions, carrots, celery, bay leaf and peppercorns.
- Cover with half water and cider and simmer for 25 minutes (for joints over 3.5 kg allow 20 minutes per 450g).
- Once cooked turn off the heat and leave to cool for 20 minutes.
- Lift out and remove the skin from the ham leaving the fat.
- Pre-heat the oven to 220 C.
- Using a knife score the fat creating a clear diamond pattern design.
- Mix sugar, mustard and honey and press all over the joint (easier to do it with your hands).
- Stick the cloves into the cuts where the lines cross.
- Place the ham in a roasting tin and pour some cider and bake for 20 minutes (tuck in the tin foil just exposing the glaze).
- Bake for 20 minutes or until the sugar has slightly caramelised.
- Cook the apples in cider and sugar until soft.
- Beat with a spoon until smooth.
- Add mustard and butter and season to taste.
- Carve the ham and serve with the hot apple sauce.
I was so proud of my dish and I served it with some pineapple slices on top too. It was so daring of me, but it was a success.
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