How to select, serve and store Christmas ham

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18 December, 2017

We ask Rod Faulkner of Yarra Valley Smokehouse how to select, serve and store Christmas ham.

What do you need to do to prepare the ham before it goes on sale?

It’s a seven-day process that consists of curing the ham for four days, cooking it for a day, cooling it for a day, and packaging it on the seventh day. There’s a lot of time that goes into it. The cook time on the ham is more than 12 hours and it’s a ‘low and slow’ method with the oven set to 83°C.

When choosing a ham for Christmas, what should we look out for?

With our hams, we look for consistency. All of our hams are about six-and-a-half kilograms and they’re nice and plump. I don’t think we can push for this, it’s up to the individual to make their own decision, but if you believe ethically that you should be buying a genuine free-range ham then that’s brilliant for all of us – it’s a lot more sustainable, it’s not manufactured, it’s not from overseas, it’s local and it’s keeping people in jobs. But unfortunately some people just can’t afford to, so I’d just recommend buying the best quality you can possibly afford.

Do you have a preferred glazing or decorating method?

We’ve been glazing hams for the past couple of years and our glaze consists of brown sugar, Dijon mustard, maple syrup, cloves and orange. The ham is scored through the fat, studded with cloves and the glaze brushed over the top.

Any tricks for carving the ham without turning it into a hot mess?

Always carve away from yourself using a very sharp knife. And when you peel the skin off the ham, don’t throw it away! It’s the most important ingredient for the longevity of your ham. Once you’ve sliced your ham, put the skin back over the meat and wrap the whole thing in a tea towel soaked in one-part vinegar to 10-parts water, wrung out so that it’s damp not wet, and then place it at the back of the fridge. This will help your ham last at least three to four weeks.

How do you enjoy ham on Christmas day?

I love a thick slice of ham cooked and placed on a piece of toast with mustard for breakfast, I think that’s beautiful. And for Christmas lunch I’d have an entree of prawns followed by a glazed ham, turkey breast and rolled loin of pork.

Do you have a preferred drink pairing?

Whatever you’re comfortable with. If you wish to have a beer with your lunch, then the saltiness of the ham will go great with that. It’s usually warm on Christmas day so a sparkling, riesling or even a glass of rosé would do just fine.

What’s your favourite way to use up leftovers after Christmas day?

Breakfast is my preferred meal for leftover ham. You can use it in an omelette, as a side to eggs, in a quiche… you’re only governed by your own imagination. Anything you would usually use bacon for, you can use ham.

Now that you've got the know-how, try making a cola-baked ham, a glazed ham with pear chutney (above), or a Boxing Day ham toastie

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