If there is one dish that is guaranteed to get everyone’s attention, it would surely be a glorious glazed and baked ham. It’s a great way of feeding a crowd with very little effort and of course, there are always leftovers. For a couple of days everyone will happily consume ham sandwiches made with good sourdough or ciabatta, rocket, juicy tomatoes and mayonnaise. Then the novelty wears off and one is left wondering what other enticing dishes can be produced without family and friends throwing up their hands in horror at the thought of eating yet more ham. I hope the following suggestions will give you inspiration during what should not only be relaxing summer holidays for the family, but also for the cook!
There are a variety of hams available for purchase these days. You need to choose the type best suited for your occasion. The majority of hams sold in New Zealand are brined, fully cooked and smoked. The second cooking of this type of ham refers to the glazing and heating of the meat which also gives it a more appealing presentation and added flavour from the glaze. The flavour of the meat in unglazed hams will differ widely due to the varying combinations of smoking ingredients used by each producer.
British and US cookbooks often call for the soaking of a raw ham to remove excess brine and then a long, slow cooking process to make the ham edible. This has to be done before a ham can be glazed.
Cooked on the Bone (Cob) Whole Leg Ham: This ham has all three bones remaining in the leg and requires some carving skills. Rind on.
(Cob) Leg Ham – Champagne: Only the hock or knuckle bone remains in the leg. The meat is then pressed together to form its original shape. This allows for easier carving and has less wastage. Rind on.
(Cob) Bone Drawn Leg Ham: This ham has had all the bones removed, it is then covered in a round casing to keep it in shape. Rind on.
Refrigerator storage: Hams can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Cover with a clean, damp tea towel and replace every day. A little vinegar in the water used to soak the cloth helps to keep the ham sweet smelling. Calico ham bags can also be purchased for storing hams. The meat needs to have air circulation to remain fresh, so never cover with plastic wrap – this will lead to rapid deterioration.
Store the ham above any raw meat product to prevent cross contamination between raw and cooked foods. Always ensure the cutting board and knife used to slice the ham is well washed if raw meat has previously been in contact with these surfaces.
Freezer storage: A whole cooked ham in an unopened vacuum pack will keep for 3 months. Large pieces of ham will keep for 2 months while ham sliced into serving portions will keep for 1 month. Sliced and pieces of ham should be well covered in plastic wrap and then in tin foil or a freezer bag. Always defrost meat in the refrigerator and not on the kitchen bench. Have it sitting on a tray or in a dish to ensure it can’t drip onto other food and never refreeze meat that has already been frozen.
Take one ham…
- Baked eggs – chopped ham with one of the following: wilted spinach, sautéed mushrooms or zucchini or roasted capsicums placed in the base of ramekins, top with an egg, a couple of spoonfuls of cream, grated parmesan and season. Cook in the oven until the whites are just set. Serve with toast fingers.
- Hash browns with finely diced ham added to the mixture, served with a poached egg and spicy tomato relish.
- Cook peas, shredded iceberg or cos lettuce, finely sliced shallots and garlic with julienned ham in a little butter. Stir through cream and Dijon mustard to make French-style green peas.
- Make a luxurious toasted sandwich – thinly sliced ham and fresh mozzarella between slices of buttered white bread. Pinch the edges together. Beat an egg and milk together, season and dip like French toast. Fry in foaming butter until golden. Turn into a lunch or supper by adding a tomato and rocket salad.
- Ham with fresh melon, roasted hazelnuts and a mint vinaigrette.
- Blanched and peeled broad beans, thinly sliced red onion and shredded ham. Toss with a good red wine vinegar dressing, basil, shaved parmesan and serve with warm, crusty bread.
- Combine julienned ham, toasted fresh New Zealand walnuts, thinly sliced celery and apples and very finely shredded red or white cabbage with a dressing of crème fraîche, mayonnaise and horseradish. Pile onto cos lettuce leaves and scatter over crumbled blue cheese if desired.
- Sauté diced ham in a little oil until golden. Add some cooked white beans, sliced garlic, halved cherry tomatoes, fresh herbs and a squeeze of lemon juice. Warm through, then spoon onto chargrilled sourdough bread that has been rubbed with a clove of garlic.
- Take a platter of thinly sliced ham and egg mayonnaise club sandwiches to the office and earn lots of brownie points.
- Bake potatoes in their skins in the oven until tender. Cut off the tops and scoop out the flesh. Mash with a little butter, diced ham and camembert, grain mustard, a little cream and an egg. Season and pile back into the shells. Top with grated cheese and bake in the oven until golden brown and hot.
- Add sautéed chunks of ham to a Spanish paella, a capsicum stew served with scrambled eggs or to a potato tortilla.
- The classic ending for a ham has to be of course, using the bone for pea and ham soup. Make up a large batch and freeze in individual portions for when cooking is just not an option.