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The Forager

Fresh at the markets: Christmas ham

The Forager

Tips for buying fresh Australian Christmas ham – then glazing, serving and storing it.

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More than 70 per cent of ham and bacon produced in Australia is made from imported frozen pork meat, says local smallgoods artisan Jose Coutinho.

To buy Australian ham, he says, look for the Australian pork logo, buy your ham on the bone (only boneless foreign pork can be imported) and know your producer – buy from someone who uses only Australian pork and cooks their hams just before Christmas so they are fresh.

Coutinho produces smallgoods such as porchetta , kassler ham, casalinga salami, lombo and black pig jamon using Australian pork and  traditional German, Portuguese and Italian recipes under his San Jose Smallgoods brand.

As well as selling from his Newton cellar door, his produce is available at Sevenhill Fine Food at the Adelaide Central Market and at his Adelaide Showgrounds Farmers’ Market stall each Sunday. This Sunday, Coutinho will have freshly cooked Christmas hams available. He offers the following tips for preparing, glazing, serving and storing it:

Storing your ham

Refrigerate your ham as soon as you get it home. Once it has been removed from its packaging and cut, it should be stored in the fridge in a calico bag or wrapped in a muslin or linen tea towel. To keep fresh, cover exposed ham surface with rind (fold skin back over flesh). Use a ham bag, clean pillow case or clean tea towel. Prepare bag by soaking it in four cups of water with two tablespoons of vinegar added, then wring out until barely damp. Wrap ham within bag, pillowcase or towel and store in the coolest part of the fridge. Re-soak cloth in solution every few days or when it dries out. Never wrap ham in cling wrap or plastic bags, as this will cause it to deteriorate.

Preparing and serving a whole, cold ham

Place ham skin side up then run a small sharp knife under the rind around the bottom (opposite end to hock) and each side of ham to about halfway up. Peel the rind back. Run the tip of the knife around the bone on the underside of the ham. Begin to slice on a slight angle down to the bone. Run the knife lengthways along the bone to remove slices. Continue to slice towards the hock. Continue slicing down to the bone, working your way around the ham. When you’ve reached about a third of the way the bone can be removed by making a few short cuts at the joint.

Glazing your ham


7kg ham on the bone (boneless hams are not recommended for glazing as they tend to become too dry when cooked)
850ml unsweetened pineapple juice
¼ cup medium-dry or sweet sherry (or similar)
400g light brown sugar
200g Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons sweet balsamic vinegar or vino cotto
2 tablespoons powdered cloves
handful whole cloves


Preheat oven or hooded barbecue to 150C. Heat pineapple juice, sherry, brown sugar and balsamic to make a syrup.

Carefully remove skin from ham but be careful to leave the fat in tact. Score fat in a diamond pattern and then rub mustard liberally over fat. Dust with powdered cloves. Place ham scored side up in a large roasting pan. Brush on glaze, decorate with whole cloves, and pour remaining glaze around base of ham. Place in oven and cook on bottom shelf for 30 minutes.

Remove from oven and baste ham with hot syrup. Return to oven and bake at 150C for approximately 15 minutes per kilo of weight (about another hour or so), continuing to baste every 15 minutes or so. Remove from oven. Glaze once again and leave to rest in tin to drain.

Remove ham, place on a large platter to serve and reserve syrup for later use with other condiments such as mustards, cranberry sauce and marmalade.

Serves 20

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