When planning a meal, or indeed a Christmas feast, there are a few tricks of the trade that will ensure you're crowned Best Host Ever. It's all about considering the table as a whole, and putting options together that compliment and build in flavour rather than compete, and different textures to make your taste buds zip and zing with delight.
Flavours that compliment
We know ham leans towards (healthy) fat and salt flavours. This is why it's so tasty, and why it's such a great vehicle for carrying other flavours.
Look for flavours that add a different profile, like sweetness or acidity, or something with a mild flavour like eggs or bread that help highlight your ham preparation. Consider the classic ham sammie - some things are cliches for a reason, and ham loves a bit of mustard and some cheesiness. Now think more broadly - can you add mustard to a potato or salad side dish, or some parmesan and lemon zest over asparagus?
Consider your glaze too. If you're using a glaze heavier in asian flavours, can you bring hints of these into your side dishes to make a cohesive plate?
We love carbs and ham loves starch - serving alongside bread or potatoes is a no brainer (and why leftovers make for amazing toasties and pizzas!).
Textures that thrill
Imagine a dinner of soup and mashed potato. Individually, some great choices, but together - it's a bit like you're stuck in hospital without your teeth. We think food should be enjoyed, and part of that experience is actually eating it - chewing your food, letting the flavours hang out together, and giving your brain some variety in mouth feel (a weird term, but actually quite important).
Chefs often refer to three main textures - crispiness, creaminess and chewiness. Serving a meal with a combination of the three helps our brains feel satisfied and weirdly, can enhance the flavour of what you've made.
Crispy pork fat potatoes
Coleslaw with crispy veg, crunchy seeds and a creamy dressing
A good slab of glazed ham
...And why not throw in a hunk of foccacia smothered with salted butter for good measure!
Food that's enjoyed
At the end of the day, cooking food that you love using quality ingredients (👋) should make you happy. If that means you're serving up a simple BBQ glazed ham alongside your favourite wedge salad and a loaf of fluffy white bread and a slab of butter, and it brings you comfort and happiness, you're doing something right.