Whole ham with chilli, marmalade and rum glaze

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I adore hams, not just around Christmas and the New Year, but at any time of the year.

Ham is wonderful eaten hot as the key component of a roast dinner, but for me it is at its best when sliced (thickly!) and served with some good bread, cheese, pickled shallots and a few chutneys: piccalilli is particularly wonderful .

This is very simple glazed ham that is poached first before being glazed and baked to finish off. The ham can simply be left to do its things for the majority of its cooking, needing only a little attention for basting with the glaze a few times towards the end.

For the poaching, I mainly use spices from the cupboard which add to give subtle flavours to the meat, but you can keep it even simpler by just using peppercorns and maybe a chopped onion or carrot…..

The ham….and simple bakes using it

I used a pre-prepared ham joint that had already been boned, giving about 3kg. You can pop the ham into a bucket or large pan of cold water and leave it to soak overnight if you want to ensure the final ham is not too salty: just drain it, discarding the soaking water.

As well as eating the ham just as it is, it is perfect for using in my baking for pies and the like. Just a little mixed into a thick white sauce makes a great filling for mini quiches or larger tarts.

For very quick and simple nibbles, my pea, ham and mustard filo bites go down very well: mix the ham with some white sauce, some frozen peas and a little mustard before spooning over small squares of filo pastry. Bring the pastry up to form an open parcel, or pinch to seal, and bake at 170C (fan) for about 12-15 minutes.

The glaze

Wonderfully sticky, with a chilli punch and the sharp citrus flavour of the marmalade, this glaze is also excellent brushed over chicken thighs or sausages before baking.

To be honest, you can throw whatever you have to hand into the glaze mixture: soy sauce, ketchup, orange juice, crushed chutney/pickles,……., as long as there are some sweet things in there such as honey, it will all cook down to give a great glaze.

Recipe: whole ham with chilli, marmalade and rum glaze

Ham and poaching liquid:

  • 1 x 3kg smoked ham
  • 4 bay leaves
  • about 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • about 1 tablespoon peppercorns
  • about 1 tablespoon cloves
  • 3-4 star anise
  • about 1 tablespoon mustard seeds
  • 1-2 cinnamon sticks
  • the peel from 1 large orange
  • cold water to cover


  • 3 tablespoons good quality marmalade – chunky or smooth
  • 2 tablespoons rum
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon chilli jelly or chilli sauce
  • 1 heaped teaspoon mustard powder or use 2 teaspoons or so of ready-made mustard of choice
  • 1-2 teaspoons chilli flakes (the smoked chipotle chilli flakes are wonderful here)
  • handful of cloves for studding into the ham, optional

(1) Drain the ham if it has been soaking in water overnight, discarding the water. Place the ham in a large pan and cover with cold water. Add the spices and herbs: you can lightly crush them if you prefer or just use them whole.

(2) Bring the the boil, and the reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and let it poach for 2 hours. Towards the end of the cooking, pre-heat the oven to 160C (fan).

(3) Remove from the poaching liquid and use a sharp knife to cut off the rind, leaving some of the fat layer. Make diagonal criss-cross cuts across the fat, trying not to go through to the meat, but if you do then it is really not a problem! Push a clove into each corner where the lines cross. Place the ham on a baking tray, ideally lined with foil.

(4) Mix the glaze ingredients together and brush some of it liberally all over the ham. I then spoon a little more just on the top so that is slowly seeps down. Bake for 15 minutes before brushing more of the glaze on top. NB: the glaze will mingle with the ham juices in the bottom of the tin, which I leave until the end, by which time it will have reduced and become sticky.

(5) Return to the oven and repeat the glazing every 15-20 minutes or so for about another hour. Remove from the oven and spoon over some of the glaze that is in the bottom of the tin. Leave to cool in the tin.

My recipe for piccalilli

This is a recipe I have used for decades, tweaking it now and then, but is makes a terrific accompaniment to cheeses, hams and sausage rolls. It is best made a few months in advance to allow the flavours to mature, but even if eaten just after being made, you will have a piccalilli that tastes better than any you can buy.

My recipe is here.


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