My mother would always have a ham boiling at Christmas. We used to eat it on Christmas Eve, and it was so useful: everyone could take some whenever they wanted. Every year she used to do all the Christmas cooking. I remember the table would be covered with lots of little crystallised fruits. The table was full of goodies, and today I still have sweetmeats on the table – figs, sweeties and the rest.
I know people hate them but I love brussels sprouts. I like them chopped in half, cooked the night before and then warmed up with lots of butter, chestnuts and orange. I adore them!
My main priority for Christmas is to make it as easy as possible. Everything is done in advance, even down to the cranberry and bread sauce. It’s frozen, and all I then do is take it out the day before.
Christmas cooking programmes get you in the mood: there’s no shame in them. It’s like people saying they’re embarrassed to watch soaps: give me Corrie any day. Learn something from TV cooking, and get in the mood as well. After all, you don’t want to make it all about one day. It’s the lead-up that’s the fun part.
20 minutes per 500g
2 onions, peeled
4 sticks of celery
4 bay leaves
3 star anise
1 tbsp black peppercorns
1 tbsp coriander seeds
Few sprigs of parsley
FOR THE GLAZE
Approx 150 cloves
350g soft dark brown sugar
200ml thick runny honey
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
FOR THE CUMBERLAND SAUCE
75g onions, very finely chopped
2 tbsp malt vinegar
Zest and juice of one lemon
Zest and juice of one orange
220g redcurrant jam
1 tsp powdered English mustard, made up
1 tbsp sugar
1.Place the ham in a very large saucepan and cover with cold water. Add the onions, celery, carrots, bay leaves, star anise, peppercorns, coriander seeds and parsley.
2.Bring the saucepan up to the simmer and cook for approximately 4 hours for a 6kg ham – allow 20 minutes per 500g. You can tell when the ham is cooked when the rind starts coming off easily.
3.Remove the ham from the saucepan and allow to rest for one hour
4.Remove all the rind while the ham is still warm, leaving as much fat on as possible. Score the fat into diamond shapes by cutting long lines one way, then the other way. Put a clove into the corner of each diamond.
5.To make the glaze, mix together the brown sugar, honey and mustard then use a pastry brush to spread the mixture all over the ham.
6.Bake in a preheated oven set at 180 degrees C/gas mark 4 for approximately 25 minutes, or until the glaze has caramelised. You will need to baste the hame every ten minutes to get a good colour. Serve hot or coled with Cumberland sauce.
1.Place all the ingredients into a pan and bring to the boil.
2.Simmer for approximately one hour on a low heat until you have a thick, sticky sauce – you do not need to strain it, so leave the onion in.
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