Cooking and Preparing your Gammon and Ham for Christmas

Cooking and Preparing your Gammon and Ham for Christmas

Succulent and tasty ham on the Christmas menu? If presenting a homecooked masterpiece, you need to buy gammon.

Clove and honey ham

How gammon and ham differ

While both are sourced from a pig’s hind leg, ham is cooked or dry-cured, and can be eaten immediately. Gammon is technically raw, cured in a way similar to bacon, requiring cooking before serving. 

Picking up a ham is the easier option for those with a busy schedule. But if you’re cooking that Yuletide feast, we recommend gammon. Why? Because baked ham is a luscious addition to the table. 

That’s right—when no longer raw, gammon becomes ham.

Christmas ham

Why we eat ham at Christmas

The Yule ham is believed to be based in older European traditions. Roman, Norse pagan, and Germanic winter festivals and celebrations all reference sacrificing and feasting on wild boar.

Pope Julius I chose to allocate December 25th as Christ’s birthday. That way, pagan celebrations and rituals in that timeframe could be integrated into the Christian practice of Christmas.

Choosing a cooking method 

The big question. What is the best way to cook gammon? Certain ham lovers swear by boiling; others insist on baking. Most chefs and cooks combine the two methods for a perfect finish.

This balanced approach offers the best of both worlds. Ham becomes succulent and flavoursome, finished with a perfect roasted glaze. Half-boiled and half-baked equals mouth-watering.

Preparing your gammon joint

The curing process for gammon means it is best soaked before cooking, to reduce saltiness. Soak the meat in water for 12-24 hours while stored in the refrigerator, with a water change every 6 hours. 

Whether using gas appliances or electric, the cooking process remains the same. To determine overall cooking time, weigh the gammon. A general guide is 20 minutes per 450g, plus 20 minutes.

Cooking your gammon 

Place gammon in a pot and fill with cold water, making sure gammon is completely covered. Depending on your recipe of choice, add ingredients. (For example, beer, honey, herbs, and even Coke.)

Bring to a gentle boil on the stove, and then simmer for half of the cooking time (the rest of the cooking time will be in the oven). Remove scum from the surface, and add water if needed.

Take gammon out of pot, and cool for about a quarter of an hour. Remove the skin, and score the ham fat. Cut into the fat in a criss-cross pattern. Just enough to let the glaze soak in.

Transfer gammon to a lined tin, cover in foil, and cook in a preheated oven at gas 4 or 180c for the remainder. Twenty minutes before finishing, apply a glaze, and return to the oven uncovered.

Perfecting the taste

How often glaze is applied depends on the recipe. Suggestions include this maple glazed ham recipe. Or you could try the mimosa ham recipe.

Baked ham
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