Finally, after a long winter, the air is getting soft, the snowdrops are pushing through the ground and I’m getting spring fever! Spring makes me think of asparagus, new potatoes, baby spinach, salmon… and an Easter Ham.
Growing up in the US, we always bought hams that were pre-cooked, and just needed glazing and baking in the oven. When I arrived in the UK, I found that hams aren’t called ‘hams’, they’re called ‘gammon’, and they’re completely uncooked. I was a bit intimidated by this at first since it requires boiling and then roasting – but the big benefit is that you can flavor the meat much more than just putting a glaze on a pre-cooked ham.
If you’re looking for vintage cooking skills, a ham roast is another easy, impressive main course. And much like the classic roast chicken, gives you a lot of options for leftovers!
The process for preparing an uncooked ham is: Boil once to remove salt, second boil to cook the ham, glaze & finish in the oven to brown and crisp the exterior.
The first time I made a ham, I used Nigella Lawson’s recipe for Ham in Coca Cola. Yes, you read that right. You boil the ham in a pot of cola. The ham actually ends up with a slightly sweet, caramel taste – it was really delicious.
For this springtime Easter ham, I decided to try a ginger-infused flavor instead, and substituted Ginger Beer and a sweet/spicy ginger molasses glaze. This ham was absolutely delicious – tender with a crispy, sweet outside, and light gingery flavor throughout. Choose a big ham so you have enough for leftovers the next day (served cold in sandwiches with mustard) or to make into a big pot of split pea and ham soup. Perfect for fending off those last few chilly days!
If you can’t find a raw ham, then you might just try using the glaze, and baking per the instructions on the ham.
1 uncooked ham (gammon joint)
1 2L bottle of Ginger Beer (or Ginger Ale, although the Beer is less sweet)
1 Tb. Molasses (Black Treacle)
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
2-3 TB. cooking liquid from above (or ginger beer or ginger ale)
1) De-salt ham: Put ham in big stock pot with lid. Cover with water. Bring to a boil, then drain. It might be all foamy at the top, just pour/rinse all of this off.
2) Cook ham: With ham in stock pot, cover in ginger beer. If you don’t have enough ginger beer, top with water. Cut onion in half, and add to stock pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer. Cover, and cook for approximately 20 minutes per pound, plus an additional 20 minutes. (Check the packaging on your ham to be sure, or use a meat thermometer).
3) Preheat oven to 400F. Place ham in roasting pan. Reserve 3 TB cooking liquid. (NB: Apparently you can use this sweet stock to make a bean soup etc, although I haven’t tried that yet.)
4) For glaze, mix molasses, ginger and cooking liquid (feel free to add up to 1 tsp ginger to make it more spicy). Pour glaze on top of ham.
5) Roast ham in oven for 20-30 minutes.
6) Carve and serve. Delicious with a little tangy mustard for dipping. Save leftovers for sandwiches and soup (recipes to follow shortly!)
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