A good baked ham, in my view, is actually baked for quite a while to caramelise the sugars onto the skin. To do this I make a runny marinade and the flavours infuse into the ham from the base and the top as it cooks. Because our hams aren’t full of water, I like to soak mine for a bit before baking.
- 7 kg whole classic smoked English-style leg ham (this needs a large oven; for a regular oven use a 4 kg ham)
- 750 ml (3 cups) good apple cider
- 75 g (⅓ cup) brown sugar
- 1 tbsp allspice berries, roughly ground
- 250 g Seville orange marmalade
- 1½ tbsp mustard powder
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Soaking time 3 hours or overnight
Soak the ham and in enough cold water to cover for 3 hours (don’t worry of the hock isn’t completely under the water) or overnight in the fridge if need be. If you’ve bought a supermarket ham (God help you) or another cheap ham that’s full of water, you may want to skip this step.
Preheat the oven to 150°C.
Remove the ham from the water, pat dry with a clean tea towel or paper towels. You now need to score the ham. Using a really sharp knife, cut across the leg through skin and fat in diagonal lines about 3–4 cm apart. Cut across the lines to create a diamond pattern. Try to avoid cutting into the meat, just score the skin and fat. You could ask your butcher to do this for you, and you could also remove the skin and score the fat, which makes for easier carving. I quite like cooking the skin, too. Once done, place in a deep large roasting pan.
To make the glaze, place all the ingredients, except the mustard powder, in a large saucepan and heat slowly, stirring constantly, until sugar is dissolved. Bring to a gentle boil for about 10 minutes, or until lightly syrupy. Stir in the mustard powder.
Pour the glaze over the ham, making sure all the scores are filled with glaze. Bake, basting every 20 minutes, for 2 hours.
By this stage, the glaze should be sticking to the top quite well, but you may need to hurry the process up a bit. (The need to do this depends a lot on your oven and the ham – some ovens seal well and won’t reduce the marinade very quickly, and some hams may drip juices into the pan.) If you want to thicken the juices, drain them from the pan and heat in a saucepan until thick and syrupy. Then pour it over finished ham, bake again for 10–15 minutes, and serve hot or warm or cold.
Also try Matthew Evans' ham steaks with peppered pineapple.