|Brown sugar and wholegrain mustard glazed ham|
I was delighted recently to be able to attend the first Dublin-based Bacon Masterclass run by Niamh Shields who writes the eat like a girl blog. It was an incredibly enjoyable evening and I'd highly recommend the class to anyone who has an opportunity to go, not just for the candied bacon and bacon fudge (which you will have to restrain yourself from eating in the car on the way home), but for the great chat from Niamh and her infectious enthusiasm for using the best quality ingredients you can get your hands on.
Finding supplies of good quality meat satisfies me immensely. Just last night I was chatting on twitter about the prevalence of pre-prepared, pre-sauced meats being sold by some butchers and how they have always filled me with horror. Trying to find higher welfare meat can often be a real challenge. Thankfully free range chicken has become much more widely available in supermarkets and butchers, however free range pork can still be very difficult to find and seeking this out is important to me as pigs are intelligent creatures and I have quite a soft spot for them (though not nearly as much as Aoife does).
I was therefore delighted to be introduced to streaky bacon from Crowe's Farm who's free range pork is sold quite near to me by James Whelan Butchers in Avoca in Monkstown. As Monkstown is a little bit out of the way for me I stocked up on quite a few piggy products as you can see...
|My lovely slab of free range pork belly is in the freezer waiting to be devoured next weekend|
The bacon is amazing, in the class Niamh said it was such good quality she'd happily eat it raw (she didn't), and none of that horrible white gunk appears when you cook it. I was eager to try out the ham, which promised to be low salt, especially as I wanted to perfect my ham glazing for this Christmas after a disaster last year involving too small a pan and scorched meat, the flavour of which no amount of glaze could mask. I'd had a lovely chat with the butcher who passed on some tips to ensure there would be no repeat of that episode and he assured me that the ham was so low in salt it wouldn't need any soaking before cooking.
Brown sugar and wholegrain mustard glazed ham
Low Salt Ham (mine was just over 2.5lbs in weight)
2 tbsps wholegrain mustard
75g soft brown sugar
Weigh your ham and calculate your cooking time (20mins per lb*, mine worked out as 53mins). Place your ham in a large saucepan and cover with cold water, place on the hob and bring to the boil. When the water reaches boiling point, remove the ham to a plate and pour out the water. I found it necessary to give the bottom of the pan a quick scrub to get rid of all the white scum. Give the ham a quick rinse under the running tap and place it back in the pan, cover again with cold water and place back on the hob. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer and leave to cook for your calculated time.
Preheat your oven to 180°C (fan). Mix your mustard and sugar together in a small bowl until they form a thick paste. When ready, transfer your ham from the pan to a board. Use a sharp knife to slice off the skin and some of the fat, being sure to leave a thin covering of fat behind. Score this fat into diamond shapes by making wide parallel cuts diagonally across the ham in one direction and then the other. Place the ham in a snug roasting dish and smear the sugar and mustard paste all over the ham, making sure it gets down into the cuts in the fat. Place the ham in the oven for 20 mins to get nice and caramelised, you can baste the ham at 5 and 10 minutes into the cooking time, after that it will be too sticky. Remove from the oven and try to resist scoffing it all immediately. This glaze is amazing, the sweet caramelised flavour with a slight tang from the mustard is the perfect complement to the delicately salty, moist ham.
After we had several slices for dinner (and lots of other sneaky bites) I sliced the leftovers and froze them in a single layer on a flat tray before wrapping them in cling film and storing them in a ziplock bag in the freezer, they're great for work lunches as I can take them out in the morning and they're defrosted by lunchtime, so superior to sliced ham from a packet.
*If you were just making a boiled ham your cooking time would be 20 minutes per pound with 20 over. As a glazed ham bakes for 20 minutes you do not need the extra 20 minutes at the simmering stage.
If your ham does not specify 'low salt' you will need to soak it in several changes of cold water for at least 5-6 hours or overnight. You may also need to repeat the step of bringing the ham to the boil and pouring out the water if a lot of white scum still rises to the surface.
You can read about Aoife's experience of the Bacon Masterclass in London here.