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How to make the perfect Christmas ham

Article image for How to make the perfect Christmas ham

There’s nothing better than a succulent Christmas ham that’s glazed to perfection.

But how do you get it just right?

Resident ham expert Richard Deignan from Black Forest Smokehouse came in answer all our ham-related questions.

What part of the pig does ham come from?

Ham is from the leg. The hind leg is where most of our bone-in ham comes from for Christmas.

How long does it take to cook a ham to perfection?

If you’re going to glaze a ham you need to peel the skin off, score it and put your cloves in. It only takes about 45 minutes in the oven until the fat caramelises and then you’ve got that lovely sticky glaze on the outside.

You don’t have to recook that ham. It’s already smoked and cooked so if you’re going to glaze it, just caramelise the fat.

How long does it take to smoke a ham?

Our process takes around 12-14 hours. We cook and process 12-13,000 hams a season. We’ve been doing it for four generations so it’s taken a while to get it right.

How do you keep ham from drying out in the fridge?

The easiest way is to use a wet tea towel soaked in one part vinegar and one part water. Wring it out and put it over the ham to keep it moist. You should get 2-3 weeks easily.

Is the fat where all the flavour is?

Absolutely. The fat carries the flavour.

What’s the difference between a free-range ham and normal leg ham?

A free-range pig has grazed on open pastures. They grow to a fatter, more consistent weight range. We call that marbling in the business.

How can you make a ham special?

People tend to glaze their ham. From citrus glazes to soy glazes. Really, it’s up to you and your preference.

Can you freeze ham?

Not on your nelly.

Click PLAY to hear all of Richard’s top tips 

Luke Davis