The Insider's Guide to Christmas Ham Prep...
Plus our fav glaze recipe of 2021, a few leftover ideas for Boxing Day and beyond... and some great big thank yous.
It’s one last ham-hoorah and a very Merry Christmas to all of you from us, before we kiss goodbye to a year no one asked for – except perhaps that strange little piece of tech, the QR code, which sure made one impressive comeback! May we all look forward to a brighter 2022.
Ham Prep 101
All our hams are pre-cooked, but it’s so worth the minimal effort of glazing them for maximum impact in both looks and taste.
Wash your hands.
Remove ham from packaging and remove brown tape from the hock if there is one.
If the ham has a hock, cut a line around the base of it so you can retain the skin on the hock when removing from the rest of the ham.
To remove the skin, slide your fingers under the thick skin and wiggle them around to loosen it, taking care to leave as much of the soft white fat intact as possible (the fat is where the flavour lives, so don’t be stingy!). Try to take the skin off in nice big pieces – and don’t biff it!
With a sharp knife, gently score the fat in a cross hatch pattern, gently so as not to cut into the meat below. Scoring looks pretty, but also helps keep the glaze from sliding off
Pop the removed skin in a baking dish, and place the ham on top of it. Add a little water to the dish… enough to cover the skin without touching the ham too much. This keeps any glaze drips from burning in the pan and keeps your ham moist and glossy.
Glaze the ham. We recommend basting the ham with extra glaze during cooking, and also spooning over some of the lovely pan juices to give the ham a nice sheen. Bake for 10 mins per kilo at 160℃ to set the glaze, and 20 mins per kilo if you want to serve your ham hot.
Get someone else to do the dishes!
Glaze of Glory
You don’t have to glaze a ham, but a glaze adds flavour, colour, and texture... thank you, caramelisation! You’ll want about 1 cup of glaze for every 3kg of ham. You can get as experimental as you like with what goes in your glaze, but overall you’re looking to balance sweet and acid, and boost the depth with spices and possibly a lick of heat… the ham itself provides all the umami you need in this gathering of flavours. You can go large and add a lot of elements to your glaze, but simple three-ingredient glazes can be equally excellent.
When making a glaze cook the ingredients briefly to amalgamate them; too long and you’ll start caramelising the sugars before the main event!
Apply glaze with a pastry brush – we recommend the silicon kind as it doesn’t shed bristles!
On top of whatever glaze you are using, you can apply a final glaze of honey or maple syrup – brush a little on 10 mins before the end of cooking time and you’ll be rewarded with an extra shiny finish.
Freedom Farms Fav Glaze of 2021
This quantity will glaze a half Champagne ham with perhaps a little left over. Double the recipe for whole hams. Leftover glaze can be kept in a jar in the fridge and used the next day – try brushing on French toast as it grills for your Boxing Day breakfast.
Put all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Lower heat and simmer for 10 mins, till starting to thicken a little.
*If you like a pronounced spice profile, locally made Honest Rum is perfect here!
Leftovers to Love
A few sando ideas – layer on thick slices of ham and …
Homemade pickled eggs (due for a comeback, watch out QR code), crisp Iceberg lettuce, your fav mayo.
Finely chopped fennel bulb and shallots mixed with mayo, mustard, chopped fennel tips, and salt and pepper.
Or, we challenge you to find a more satisfying toastie than the Cubano… leftover ham and roast pork (yes, double meat) layered with Swiss cheese, yellow mustard, sliced gherkins and toasted on a crusty roll.
Or, take a leaf from the East…
Use strips of ham alongside pickled daikon, blanched spinach, and omelette as a filling for kimbap (Korean sushi).
Diced ham in a fridge-clean fried rice
Strips of ham meet cold ramen noodles, julienned veges, and a zingy soy-vinegar sauce in the classic Japanese summer dish hiyashi chuka
Five Good Things
1/ The sweet snacks abound at this time of year… we love a good Christmas Mince Tart as much as the next person… but we’re also keeping a stash of Libby’s Pork Crack on hand for savoury snacking moments. Made from Freedom Farmed pork it is a great addition to early evening nibbles before you fire up the BBQ!
2/ Your local library. It can be tough to switch off over the summer break while your phone is still in your hand. Skip the digital books and head to your local library – whats not to love about a big stack of books… especially when they don’t cost you anything?!
3/ If the thought of putting down your phone is too much… here are some podcasts we’re looking forward to catching up on this summer:
Hākari and the art of the Feast: Nē? A Te Ao Māori Podcast
Kasey and Kārena Bird sharing their unique perspective on upholding mana through sharing food. Presented by The Spinoff.
All Things Food Podcast: Hosted by Nickie Hursthouse
Nickie is a Christchurch-based registered dietician who manages to simultaneously reject diet culture and promote joyful eating. A rare gem in a world that spends a lot of time telling us the ‘right’ way to approach eating.
Loading Docs 2021
Okay, so not really podcasts – this years’ batch of mini documentaries dropped in the middle of the August lockdown. Our picks are The Weedfish (we really should normalise people being fish nerds!) and The Scam – the wild tale of an older West Coast beekeeper who got tangled up in a scam that has to been seen to be believed.
4/ Pick your own berries. Heading out to pick berries is a great family activity – most of Auckland’s berry farms are continuing to offer PYO under ‘red’ traffic light restrictions – you’ll just need to follow their safety protocols (please remember to put sunscreen on your face, even if you’re wearing a mask – that’s a particularly unfortunate sunburn to get!)
5/ If you’re the head chef in your kitchen this Christmas, the rules are that you get to pick the playlist. If you are still in the game with #whamageddon2021 then skip the Christmas carols and give this one a go instead.
We’ll try to keep this brief(ish). While the work of our independently audited NZ farmers – with systems that are kinder to farm animals and take it easy on the environment – is central to what we’re all about at Freedom Farms – what happens on the farm is only the beginning. Fifteen years ago we set out to give NZers a choice with the bacon, eggs, ham, pork and sausages they support in every grocery store, butcher and specialty food store in the country. To achieve that takes a committed group of people who share our values – from the farm gate all the way to your kitchen. We’re finishing this year up with Freedom Farms products in over 85% of NZ’s grocery stores… that’s a team effort we’re very very proud of.
In this dumpster fire of a Covid year, it feels important to specifically acknowledge the people who donned PPE and kept the food system ticking along while the rest of us stayed home to stop the spread: our production partners, the farmers and their teams, the livestock transport operators, the abattoir workers, the butchers, production and packaging teams, truck drivers, the distribution centre staff, the supermarket (especially the unseen night-fill teams – many of whom worked night shifts while juggling learning from home with their kids during the day) and checkout staff, the sales reps and the planning teams who overcame huge disruption. You’re incredible human beings and we thank you.
And finally, you. Freedom Farms only succeeds because there is a formidable group of people in Aotearoa New Zealand who strongly believe that we can have a food system that is kinder for farm animals and protects the environment – and are willing to seek out and support products that uphold those values. Thank you to each and every one of you who have picked us this year.
We’re signing off for the year this afternoon. Look out for the next edition of The Omnivore in mid-January.
Wishing you all a safe (Covid-free!) and delicious Christmas and New Year!
Hilary, Anna, Gregor and Cameron