Tuesday, December 9th, 2014
Every year, for as long as I can remember, my Mum has made a ham for Boxing Day. It sits in the fridge for the week before Christmas and I have to exercise enormous self control to stop myself from picking a piece off every time I walk past. We finally get to eat it on Boxing Day in front of the fire, sat in our pyjamas, watching Christmas telly, accompanied by jacket potatoes filled with salty butter; Mum’s chutneys, surely I’m not the only one incapable of saying chutney with out channeling Schmidt from New Girl; more cheese than any human should really be capable of eating; and wine. Lots and lots of wine.
If my mother were the kind of woman to have a catchphrase, it would be “If in doubt, Delia.” She follows this recipe from Delia’s Christmas book, which I’ve paraphrased here. I think the only change she makes is adding even more English mustard, because we really, really love mustard.
1 joint of ham, how much depends on how many people you want to feed; for how long; and how big their appetites are.
Once the ham is home and out of its wrappings it’s put in the utility room sink and covered with water to soak, this lets the salt used for preserving the joint seep out into the water so you don’t end up with something too salty to eat. If you aren’t sure how long you need to soak your ham for ask the butcher you bought it from or have a quick google.
Preheat your oven to 160C (Gas mark 3) and line your roasting tin with two sheets of foil, one length ways and one width ways. Take the ham from the sink and put it on the foil. You want to make a little tent for your ham from the foil and cook it for 20mins per pound (450g) of ham. So, if you have a 6lb ham, that’s 2 hours.
Half an hour before the cooking time is up take your ham out of the oven and turn it up to 220C (gas mark 7). Very, very carefully, using a tea towel to protect your hands, unwrap the foil tent and gently peel the skin from the ham. Seriously, be careful to not burn your hands, I can tell you from experience that it really, really hurts and will leave some impressive scars. Leave as much of the fat behind as possible. (Delia explains this bit far better than I ever could.)
Score the fat diagonally, making diamond shapes and then stud each diamond with a clove. Smear the top of the ham with mustard, for a 6lb ham you’ll need around 1 1/2 very heaped tablespoons, but it’s up to your own taste. Sprinkle with an equal amount of soft brown or Demerara sugar and press it into the ham, it’s best to use your hands here.
Pop it back into the oven, uncovered for the last half hour of cooking.
When cooked, it will need at least 45mins of cooling time before serving, or you can let it cool completely before covering and putting in the fridge to wait. After all, who really wants to spend Boxing Day cooking?
What are your Boxing Day Traditions?