Monday, December 29, 2008
Christmas 2008: The Ham Night
To be completely honest, I wasn't planning on having a ham dinner at all - I was never a fan of cold Christmas ham as a kid, and had no idea when we'd find the time to eat it. However, about a month before Christmas, I was up at Rendinas butcher ordering my turkey and remembered that they're famous for their hams, so on a whim of extravagance, I ordered one too. I figured that, surely, in a month's time I'd have figured out what to do with it. Hah!
Well, the day before the pick-up, (2 days before Christmas itself), I still had no idea, and frantically flicked through my cookbooks to decide on a menu for the ham. I have made hot ham before (notably during my How to Eat project, and whilst in London), always getting raw pickled pork or gammon, and boiling it myself - a long and tedious process. Because our hams only come fully cooked in Australia, I knew I could either serve it cold, or apply a glaze, then heat it briefly in the oven. (According to a Donna Hay recipe, a 8kg ham takes only 45 minutes to heat through).
Here is the menu I chose:
A Pre-Christmas Dinner for 4
Baked Ham with Mustard-Muscovado Glaze
Spiced Peaches (Nigella Express)
Mac & Cheese (Tyler's Ultimate)
The mustard-muscovado glaze comes from a suggestion in How to Eat, the peaches from Nigella Express, and the mac & cheese from Tyler's Ultimate. Nigella fans will notice she has a similar menu in Nigella Christmas - a ginger-glazed ham accompanied by mac and cheese. I avoided Nigella's recipes because the ham doesn't have the resplendent clove-studded diamond pattern, and Nigella's mac & cheese recipe bizarrely uses evaporated milk instead of a white sauce. I've tried it; it tastes weird. Tyler's mac & cheese, on the other hand, is truly the ultimate version. Classic, and delicious. He serves it with smoky peas and bacon on the side, but I left out the bacon, so as to avoid a culinary tautology.
Naturally wood-smoked organic leg ham; slicing off the rind, diamond-scoring and clove-studding, cooked ham. The smallest leg-ham I could get was a 2kg piece, and it took about 30 minutes to get hot all the way through and brown on the outside.
Mac & cheese!
Peas - cooked with onion, thyme and a little butter.
Nigella's spiced peaches - ludicrously easy to make (just put everything in a pot and simmer), and totally perfect with the ham.
We loved, loved, loved this meal! The ham was incredible, and the accompaniments worked really well. I thought the spiced peaches were fantastic - I'm a huge fan of fruit with meat. Everything was pretty easy to make, and was put together super-quickly. We actually had it on the Tuesday night before Christmas. That's right, (she says, tooting her own horn), I got this whole dinner together after work one night. I got home at 6, and dinner was on the table before 8. *Pauses for applause*. Thank-you, thank-you.