Norfolk christmas ham

Norfolk christmas ham

At Home with Ben
Mark Roper

My mum’s cousin Michael Boning was a runner-up on MasterChef UK when Loyd Grossman was host. Michael subsequently bought a pub in Norfolk, and one year I spent a Christmas there. We cooked Christmas lunch together, including Michael’s recipe for Christmas ham.

The advantage you have in England is that when you poach your pickled ham or gammon, it’s so cold you can leave it in the pot outside the back door! Here in Australia I tend to work with a half leg of gammon, just so you can get it in the fridge. You may need to soak the gammon overnight prior to poaching; ask your butcher whether it needs a long soaking.

You don’t have to save this one for Christmas though. It is fantastic done in the Weber with a few soaked woodchips thrown in at the last minute!


Quantity Ingredient
1 x 4kg piece gammon, on the bone
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons salt
handful cloves


Quantity Ingredient
2 oranges
10 whole cloves
1/2 cup orange juice
3 carrots, roughly chopped
2 onions, sliced
small bunch thyme
6 juniper berries
2 sticks cinnamon
2 x 500g jars good-quality marmalade


  1. Soak the gammon in plenty of fresh cold water for 1 hour, or as long as the butcher tells you to.
  2. To prepare the marinade, stab the oranges with a knife to increase the flavour, then stud each one with 5 cloves. Place the gammon in a large saucepan, along with all the marinade ingredients and enough cold water to cover. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour. Allow the gammon to cool completely in the liquid, leaving it overnight in a cool spot.
  3. When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 160°C.
  4. Take the gammon out of the marinade and place it on a baking tray. Remove the skin from the ham, leaving a layer of fat. Score lines into the fat to create diamond shapes. Cover with foil and bake for 2 hours.
  5. Take the tray out of the oven and turn up the heat to 200°C. Combine the brown sugar and salt and rub or sprinkle all over the fat and into the cuts. Stud each diamond with a clove. Return to the oven for 30 minutes, or until the fat is golden brown and crisp.
  6. Allow the gammon to rest for at least 30 minutes before carving.
At Home with Ben
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