Glazed hams conjur up many memories for me: Christmas, 21st birthday parties and especially my Aunty Judy, who was the official keeper of the family recipe. Every year, Judy would present the most beautiful glazed ham at Christmas, enormous and golden and that perfect balance between the sweet glaze and the slightly salty flavour of the ham. And at the end of Christmas lunch, we would all line up to get a care package of leftover ham to take home. Unfortunately, Judy's eyesight failed her and, eventually, she had to stop cooking. And so, the recipe was passed to me, and I am now the official keeper of the ham. (My mother remains the official keeper of the turkey).
I try not to leave ham only to the festive season. In my opinion, it is the perfect thing to serve at the end of a drinks party, when people are still a bit hungry but don't want a meal. Just slice up some baguette, pull out a couple of different mustards and chutneys, and let everyone tuck in. You will be amazed at how much people enjoy it, and the leftovers are great. Stored properly, still on the bone, ham will last a couple of weeks in the fridge, or you can freeze it in small bundles to be pulled out for sandwiches, quiches or whatever takes your fancy. I love it all the more at other times of year because it is unexpected.
1 leg of ham (Your butcher will be able to advise on what size you will need depending on how many people you are feeding).
3/4 cup apricot jam
1 1/2 tbl white vinegar
1 tbl honey
1/2 tsp ground ginger
whole cloves to garnish
If your ham still has a skin on it, very carefully peel up a small corner, without pulling off the fat, and work the skin off, by slowly sliding your hands underneath, edging further and further. Try to keep the skin in one piece as it is useful to cover the ham during storage, to stop it drying out.
With a sharp knife, carefully and lightly score the fat of the ham in a diamond pattern. Don not cut all the way through the fat to the meat. You can then insert a clove into each corner, if you are that way inclined.
Combine apricot jam, vinegar, ginger and honey in a small pot. Heat gently for five minutes, until the jam has melted. If the jam has pieces of apricot in it, sieve them out - you want a nice smooth glaze. Brush over ham. Bake ham in a 200C oven for 20 minutes, then reduce the heat to 180C and bake for a further 1 1/2 hours. Baste with the glaze every 20 minutes. If the pot of glaze gets too thick, heat gently. Serve with bread, or a crunchy green salad.