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Christmas Ham Tips from Gary’s Meats

Tuesday 7th December 2021

Ham is often the centrepiece of the Christmas table, so you might feel the pressure when it comes to creating the perfect Christmas ham.

Ash from Gary’s Meats has shared a few of her ham secrets with us, to relieve some of the stress.

Peeling the skin

Start at the round end of the ham pressing your thumb up against the fat where it connects with the skin. You should be able to slowly begin separating the skin from the fat. If you find the skin is tearing, use a small butter knife to get between the skin and fat, remembering to keep the tip of the knife pressed hard against the skin – surprisingly this works really well and removes the danger of cutting yourself if you slip. 


Once the skin has been peeled back, take a small vegetable knife (with a sharp tip) and run it along the fat with the knife at an angle, slicing the fat 1mm deep. Make another slice about 4cm away, parallel to the first cut (with the same angle on the tip) and continue to score to cover the whole ham. On the same scoring lines that you just made, run the tip of your knife along the lines again with the tip of the knife at the opposite angle. The goal is to create a “V” shape to make the scoring stand out. Repeat this action with the lines running perpendicular to the original lines. This will create lovely diamond scoring on the ham fat. 


Once the whole ham has been scored, place the cloves in the corners of the diamond scoring. You may choose to place your cloves in the centre of the diamond instead, it’s completely up to you! This is a great activity to get the kids involved in.


Take a kitchen paint brush and generously coat the ham in your glaze of choice. Things like mango chutney, marmalade and maple syrup make for a nice and easy ham glaze. 

An idea for a homemade glaze is combining things like soaked and blended cranberries, orange juice and peel, maple syrup and cognac. The trick is to reduce the glaze on the stove top until you get a thick syrup. The thicker the glaze mix, the more it will stick to the ham.


Heat the oven to 160 degrees and bake the ham for 40 minutes prior to serving. Remember, you are just heating the ham through as it is already cooked. 


Holding onto the hock with your left hand (if you’re right-handed), and the carving knife in your right, start at the round end of your ham and begin to slice. You should be able to slice straight through without hitting bone for the first 8-10cm. You will then start hitting the marrow bone in the centre of your ham. When this happens angle your knife to run parallel to the bone. Slice as much as you need for that moment as the ham keeps best when left on the bone. 


After Christmas you can keep your ham for up to a month when stored correctly. When purchasing your ham, ask your butcher for a ham bag – usually these have instructions on the back. If you don’t have a ham bag you can always use a large kitchen tea towel or even an old pillowcase works really well! Soak the ham bag/ tea towel in salted and vinegared water. This will help keep your ham moist and juicy. Remember to rehydrate your ham bag in the same salt/vinegar brine once a week.

Removing the hock

You might decide you want to make some pea and ham soup, but you still have half a ham left in the fridge. Removing the hock is quite simple and is ideal for a delicious soup! Run your knife around your ham hock where it meets the round part of your ham. You want the base of the knife to cut along the bone of the hock. Once cut, place your left hand (assuming you are right-handed) on the meaty part of the ham, and hold the hock with your right. Press down with both hands and the hock should naturally separate from the ham. Don’t be afraid to use some force here. 

Buy your Christmas ham from Ash and the team at Gary’s Meats, located in our meat market, AKA Bracher Arcade. This area of the food Market is also full to the brim of poultry, seafood, and game, including organic food options.

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