CHRISTMAS will soon be here, and we will have to decide what we are going to eat on the day, be it turkey, pheasant, or even beef. A wonderful standby is home-baked ham.
6 kg (16 lb) hock of smoked ham with the knuckle
water to cover
4 medium carrots
2 large onions
bunch of parsley, tied with string
3 sticks of celery
2 dessertspoons white sugar
For baking the ham:
2 dessertspoons English mustard
25g (1 oz) cloves
4-5 tablespooons soft brown sugar
Place the ham in a large saucepan, cover it with water, and keep it in the fridge for 24 hours. Pour the water away, replenish the ham with fresh water, chop the carrots into rings, peel and quarter the onions, chop the celery into bits. Boil the ham with these ingredients, and the parsley, and the peppercorns and sugar, then slightly lower the heat for 2½ hours.
Take it off the heat, let it cool, and then lift the ham out on to a tray. You can save the liquid for stock. Peel off the skin, carefully leaving the fat intact. With a small, sharp knife, score the fat in lines half an inch (2 cm) apart, and then across again diagonally: you will have little squares. Spread the mustard all over the ham and the fat. In each little square, press in a clove.
Put the ham on a large piece of foil and wrap it up, but leave the top open enough for the ham not to burn but the steam to escape. Put the ham on a large baking tray, heat the oven to 160-170°F/325°C/Gas 3, and place the tray in the centre for 1½ hours. Then remove the foil, and bake the ham for another 15 minutes.
Take the tray out and rest the ham for another 15 minutes. Then put on some rubber gloves and press the soft brown sugar all over the cloves. You can either eat it hot straight away, or leave it to slice cold.
Mango chutney (makes 450g/1 lb)
firm ripe mangos,cut into chunks
150ml (¼ pint) cider vinegar
130g (4½ oz) light muscovado brown sugar
small fresh red chilli, split
2.5cm (1 inch) piece of fresh root ginger, peeled and grated
1 garlic clove, crushed
1½ teaspoons coriander seeds, crushed
1 bay leaf
½ teaspoon salt
Put the (peeled) mango chunks into a pan, add the cider vinegar, and cover. Cook over a low heat for 10 minutes, then stir in the remaining ingredients. Bring to the boil, slowly stirring. Simmer gently for 30 minutes until the mixture is syrupy. Leave to cool, then ladle into a hot sterilised jar and cover. Leave to rest for a week before serving.