How do I get a good Christmas ham?
We've all been there, meal prepping at 3pm on Christmas Eve for lunch the next day for eighteen guests. Several delicious meals, traditional sides, and then a couple of options for dessert. But the main event?
A classic Christmas ham.
We want to please our families with a hearty serving of delicious food cooked to perfection, ideally without too much work and, of course, plenty of leftovers for Boxing day. For the Christmas ham to be a real crowd-pleaser, there are a few key elements that your guests will be on the lookout for.
Firstly, the glaze. We love the scrumptious combination of maple syrup, onion, garlic, cinnamon, star-anis, allspice, mustard, orange, lemon, cloves, rosemary, and thyme, all coming together to bathe an Australian pork Christmas ham with a fireworks show of flavour. The Délidoor glaze has been carefully perfected by Chef Sebastien, with a wealth of knowledge and years of experience and alteration, creating the perfect recipe.
Secondly, the cooking. The perfect Christmas ham needs to be not too dry, not too salty, and crispy, yet sweet, just how our guests like it. All the better when the leftover ham reappears in a meal that highlights the smoked flavours (like a ham and salad sandwich), which is always better the next day.
The perfect Christmas lunch
We want the Christmas lunch to pass the taste test of a fussy child or judging aunt. Taste is paramount; fresh ingredients, cohesive flavours, and the small happy surprise of an unexpected ingredient are all worth planning for.
Christmas is about getting together with family and basking in the glory that is the main dish, most commonly the glazed ham. The traditional ingredients that have graced Christmas ham glaze recipes for decades are tried and tested - they work! However, the way they come together in the glaze is where the real magic happens.
The trouble with store-bought ham
It's a potluck digging into the fridge or freezer section of your local supermarket for a Christmas ham. It's so hard to know what to look for. Do you look for ham with a thick fat layer? A half leg? A whole ham? Pre glazed? Should I just get a turkey? When do I even buy the ham? Add all of the hints and tips your family members have graced you with into the situation, and you're left with too many questions to handle.
We eat with our eyes, but how do we incorporate such complex flavours?
Taste is paramount, of course, but everyone has an opinion on how to get the flavour. Some say the glaze must be sweet with copious amounts of honey or to leave the ham to rest on the table for 10 minutes; sometimes, it's to cook the ham the day before, conversely; you must marinate the ham for 36 hours before cooking; it's more advice than you can manage. The different options (and opinions!) can easily boggle the most competent home chef! It might be your first year of hosting Christmas, a tremendous amount of pressure to be on anyone's shoulders; after all, we want everything to be perfect on the day.
Then once you have gotten your carefully selected ham home after the busyness that only comes from last-minute gift shopping, how do you cook it? It's so easy to be overwhelmed by all the different recipes with ingredients you've never heard of, and even easier to get overwhelmed by the beautiful images of Christmas ham, glistening beautifully in cookbooks and promising you more flavour in less time. Yeah right!
All types of Christmas ham recipes
Traditional hams are cooked on Christmas day, likely by a grandparent or proud parent. They use a glaze of honey, brown sugar and orange juice and top the ham with slices of pineapple, glacé cherries and cloves. But in 2022, we want hams glazed to perfection with a symphony of simple yet cohesive ingredients.
The Christmas ham struggle
We have all had the struggle of trying to create the perfect Christmas lunch. Communicating with families and distant relatives and catering for all different dietary requirements. All with the ever-mounting pressure of ensuring it is a Christmas lunch to remember. Amongst all of that, ensuring the main Christmas ham is the star dish.
The supermarket scramble and the illusion of the perfect ham as seen on TV
To create such a star Christmas ham, we would have been tasked with scouring the supermarket shelves for obscure herbs and spices under the illusion that we need fancy ingredients to make a tasty glaze. Quite the contrary, simple herbs and spices put together and caramelised with sugar creates the best ham glaze.
It is straightforward to be caught up in creating the best Christmas ham; the celebrity chefs and cooking shows tell us we can do it from home and get the same results! They're far from the truth.
The stressful lead to the Christmas day
Amongst the stress of cooking for your tribe, you use caster sugar, not brown sugar; a surefire way to candy the ham, not end up with a well-glazed ham. Put into the mix kids, exchanges of gifts, greeting guests, additional guests arriving (you only bought a half ham, not a whole ham!), forgetting to preheat the oven, seating arrangements to suit everyone, forgetting to fold the napkins neatly with a Christmas cracker on top, snacks to hold everyone over to lunch and to coordinate the rest of the dishes. The resulting table rarely meets the picture of the Christmas ham we've aimed for.
The holiday season is all about getting together with family, catching up with loved ones and indulging in good food. A stress-free, quick and easy Christmas ham glaze will reduce the pressure you're under, so you can get back to the good stuff.
It's all about the timing
Many Christmas ham recipes will call for a long cooking time, with the Christmas ham being basted with the glaze every 10 minutes. It's every host's worst nightmare; to be stuck in the kitchen whilst everyone else gets to celebrate the festivities. It can be a lot of work ensuring that the oven temperature is just right and the glaze is cooking evenly and not burning. Not to mention juggling the array of side dishes; it's a lot.
How big should the Christmas ham be?
To define ham simply, it is a cut of pork, specifically the back thigh/rump. Generally speaking, a whole ham (bone-in) is approximately 10 kg, whilst half a ham (bone-in) is 4-5kgs. You cannot have a Christmas ham alone; what makes it a Christmas ham is the glaze.
The true cost of Christmas
The most expensive time of year. The astronomical amount of pressure we put on ourselves for the perfect Christmas lunch and dinner - there has to be a quicker and easier option, surely? There is no denying the fact ham can be expensive. Add in the cost of time, resources and patience to find everything you need. It's easy to feel like you're already behind before you begin.
The perfect pairing - ham and mustard
Fast forward to dinner. You have absolutely nailed lunch; everyone is stuffed and in a food coma on the couch, but there's still some leftover ham for dinner. The sharpness of a good mustard pair well with the salty taste of the ham. The mustard cuts through the fat of the ham, making the smoky flavours sing. Imagine; a couple of ham slices on some baking paper ready to be carefully constructed into a masterpiece of sandwiches, primed and ready to be perfectly paired with your chosen mustard of choice, either honey mustard, Dijon mustard, or hot English mustard.
What makes the perfect ham glaze?
A sweet glazed ham in the centre of the table, surrounded by this year's trend of Christmas decorations, glistening to perfection. A perfect glaze occurs when the sugars caramelise, and the slightly sticky glaze adheres to the ideal cut of Christmas ham. The glaze adds flavour, colour and texture to the ham, elevating it from its somewhat basic form. Our glaze at Délidoor is the perfect companion.
The perfect solution
At Délidoor, we pride ourselves on our carefully curated glazed ham. Christmas Ham is all about high-quality ham and great glazing. The glazing has been perfected over the years by Chef Sebastien. It is a perfect mix of sweet, sour and spicy ingredients. Our Ham will be delivered fresh and has a seven days shelf life; we recommend delivery the week of Christmas.
Preparation, cooking and serving instructions
If you want to reheat it :
- Preheat the oven to 100-120 deg.
- Slice the ham, place ham in a baking tray, pour a bit of glaze on top and reheat for 30 minutes, until hot.
Our Christmas hams are purchased from Zammit. They provide Australian pork products full of smoky taste, perfectly ready for a deliciously sweet glaze designed and crafted by Délidoor. The quick and easy meal delivery service from Délidoor takes the stress out of doing it yourself.