We think it would be fair to say that the ham is the real centrepiece of any festive feast. Many would argue it’s a close contest with Christmas turkey, and while they are often intimate companions on many a festive menu, you really can’t beat the ham for its versatility and ability to shine on its own. It can be suited for any type of Christmas feast, whether you’re going for the traditional hot cooked roast with all the trimmings or a modern Kiwi Christmas, matched with summer salads and seafood, we can pretty much guarantee it will leave you surely satisfied and laden with leftovers well into the new year.
In the United Kingdom, the tradition is to buy fresh gammon and to cook it yourself before glazing. Thankfully in New Zealand you’ll find pre-smoked and cooked ham that’s ready to eat or glaze, saving a whole lot of time and effort! Here at Farro, we only sell free-farmed, New Zealand raised ham. All of our hams are pre-cooked so you can eat it straight from the pack, just like how we slice it in the deli, or prepare it with your own special glaze to elevate the hams sticky, sweet and succulent glory!
Here are our simple tips on how to pick the ultimate Christmas ham…
DOES SIZE MATTER?
This is a tricky one as it depends on what you’re using the ham for and whether it will be the only meat dish on your table. And of course, how hearty the appetite is of your guests! If the Christmas ham is your main meat dish, we would recommend allowing for 200-300 grams per person, keep in mind that’s a lot if you have other meat and sides to serve as well. If you are serving more than one meat dish, a portion closer to 100-150g would be a better bet. This portion would give each guest a good slice or three, depending on how thick you like it.
The good thing to bear in mind is that ham is fantastic the next day, (and for many days after!) If stored correctly, leftovers will keep in the fridge nicely for up to a week. So it’s best to overestimate rather than to underestimate the size of your ham.
ON-THE-BONE VS CHAMPAGNE
This comes down a little bit to aesthetic and also ease of carving. Both taste pretty delicious! Champagne ham has the main bone removed. It’s easy to carve and easy to glaze, plus it makes a pretty impressive table centrepiece. As you carve through the ham, you won’t be left with the bone so it will be easier to store in your fridge. Smaller, quarter-sized Champagne ham is also available for smaller gatherings.
Ham-on-the-bone is more of a classic. Smoked and cooked with the bone left in, this makes a really impressive centrepiece and has a slightly firmer texture. You can dress the bone after you glaze and heat it, which will be a real showstopper! We recommend wrapping it in cloth and using fresh herbs, such as rosemary, thyme and bay leaves wrapped in twine. Make sure you carve at the table for added Christmas theatre.
A GLAZE OF GLORY!
Although you can eat our ham straight from the packet, glazing is a Christmas tradition which makes the ham taste and look so much better. Succulent salty ham is delicious with a sweet, sticky glaze brushed over which caramelizes when roasted. It’s just the perfect combination!
Choosing a ham glaze doesn’t have to be complicated. You can buy a pre-made glaze like Harriet’s Ham Glaze, or try a very simple combination of marmalade and wholegrain mustard for something more extravagant. You can decorate your ham traditionally with studded cloves or pineapple and orange slices for effect. To find out exactly how to glaze a ham, see our easy step-by-step video here.
GREEN EGGS & HAM BAGS
Despite what Dr Seuss led us to believe, green ham is not a good Christmas treat. Safely store your ham in the fridge to keep it moist with the trusty addition of a ham bag or covered with a damp tea towel. Soak your bag in a mix of 1 litre of water to 2 tablespoons of white vinegar, then squeeze out the excess liquid, leaving the bag damp. Repeat the process every few days. Do not wrap the ham firmly, allow for some air circulation to avoid sweating.
DON’T GET 1, GET 2 – A HAM ISN’T JUST FOR CHRISTMAS
Take one away with you to the bach and you’ll be having ham sandwiches or ploughman’s lunches. It’s an easy meat to slice just as you need it. Some people see ham as a Christmas thing, but we say, let them eat ham throughout January – breakfast, lunch and dinner!