I remember very clearly the first time I went with my friend Sarah Thorowgood to visit her family for the weekend. Sarah’s mother, Sue, had asked if I was one of those people who ‘ate like a sparrow’ and was quickly reassured that was most definitely not the case. I can still picture the family sitting around a large kitchen table and everyone laughing over words that each of them found annoying; ‘pamphlet’, ‘capsule’, ‘foliage’ etc. while Sue carried over the most enormous and delicious looking ham. Ham was not something we ever had at home growing up and my only experience till then was overly salty slabs of ham covered in tinned pineapple – classic 80’s England. I have seriously never had a ham that came close to the one that Sue made that night and has had me searching unsuccessfully for the last 17 years. That was the first of many happy weekends at their house in Berkshire until I moved to America. I remember my last visit and being given Martini glasses by the family for my ‘Sex and the City’ new life that I was embarking on with great trepidation. Would anyone see the humor in the word ‘pamphlet’? Where could I go to play Articulate? My favorite board game first introduced to me by the Thorowgoods and the source of hours of laughter. I’m glad to say that I’ve found all of the above in New York.
But back to that ham. I’ll admit that I never tried to make it myself as I was always slightly intimidated by the idea. It sounded so complicated and I was always unsure of what ham to buy in the stores especially since they all appeared to be precooked or smoked in some way. It wasn’t until recently when we started selling Schaller & Weber that I received a proper education on the different types of hams on the market. As soon as I tasted their Swedish Party Ham, I ran home and emailed Sue for her recipe. Although there were a lot of steps, it wasn’t nearly as complicated or intimidating as I had originally thought. As the ham was in its last stages in the oven, my entire flat was filled with a smell so delicious that it took me right back to the Thorowgoods kitchen all those years ago. We had to photograph it before I was allowed to taste it and the smell was driving me crazy. I couldn’t wait to find out if it tasted as good as it smelt and looked. It did!
What makes this recipe so delicious is how juicy the ham stays – you can almost cut it with a butter knife. The glaze is both sweet and salty and for a ham cooking novice like myself, very easy to make a large crowd happy. Getting through 7lbs of ham on your own though is no mean feat even after you’ve packed your friends off with multiple slices. So get ready for a post soon on my favorite ways to use up that delicious leftover ham.
2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
3 large cloves of garlic (sliced)
4 bay leaves
1 cup of dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons of dry mustard powder
3 cloves of finely chopped garlic
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a large pot, cover ham with water and bring to a boil – boil for 3 minutes.
2. Discard all the water and cover again with fresh water (this step helps remove excess saltiness from the finished ham).
3. Add peppercorns, garlic and bay leaves.
4. Bring back to the boil and simmer on a low heat, covered for 1 hour.
5. Remove ham from the pot but reserve the water.
6. On a cutting board, place ham flat side down. Remove any tough skin and much of the fat from the top, leaving about 1 inch of fat remaining. Score the remaining fat with shallow diagonal lines creating a diamond pattern.
7. While ham is simmering, prepare the glaze. In a medium bowl, mix all the dry ingredients thoroughly and then very slowly, drop by drop. Add balsamic vinegar, stirring as you go, until you have the consistency of a sticky paste.
8. Coat the whole ham with the glaze and place flat side down in an ovenproof dish.
9. Add about 3 or 4 ladles of the reserved water to the bottom of the dish. (Freeze the remaining water to use for stock and soups)
10. Cook for about an hour or until the surface of the ham is golden brown and the sauce is bubbling.
11. When ready, remove the ham to a cutting board and transfer juice to a saucepan.
12. Reduce the sauce by half (it is ready when it easily coats the back of a spoon). Serve the sauce separately in a gravy boat and pour over carved ham at the table.
NB: I found it very useful to pre-slice my leftovers and freeze in individual bags. That way when I was making a new recipe, I could defrost only what I needed.