Dec 18

Port and Sweet Mustard Glazed Ham




I think of Christmas and I always think of food. Lots of it. This is after all the season to be jolly. Where friends and family come together over a hefty Christmas spread to eat, drink and be merry.

Over the years my so-called “Christmas spread” has never been ambitious; never been good at roasting meats. So I usually kept things simple by cooking up pastas, quiches and perhaps a stew. Even then I burnt my first ever beef stew back in 2004. I did not know how to cook, I was only good at a small repertoire of stir-fries.


Since then I have experimented and tonight … I roasted my first ever Christmas ham.

On Wednesday is Robert’s office Christmas party which he is throwing as a way of thanking all the staff and his team for a year of a job well done. Everyone has been working really hard lately and he just wanted to end the year with a casual afternoon of food. He came home and told me of his plans and guess who got roped in to organize and cook all the food! Oh well, not like I had anything else planned, I was going to be on annual leave anyway so I got right down to devising the entire menu that was fit to feed 20 people. Have to make a good impression. Up until now I have only sent little cakes and things to the office on occasion … now I have to come up with a whole banquet that’s going to be held in the boardroom. The CEO and the company owner are also going to be in attendance … Lord above!


I started out making the list of potential food then I shortlisted the best and most manageable. I knew I did not want anything messy as it was going to be a buffet style party. People were going to be standing about holding plates in hands so food had to be functional and practical. No hot food either as the food was going to be laid out on the table with no way of keeping them warm, so everything has to be something that can be enjoyed at room temperature. In the end after much consideration I came up with twelve items, divided into three categories: Nibbles, Mains and Sweets.





Nibbles and Sweets were easy enough. The challenge was the mains, namely the ham and the poached side of salmon, neither of which I have ever done before.

Poached salmon … easy enough. Place in pan, cover with poaching liquid, wrap in foil and bake for 20 mins.

But how do I bake a ham???

Cue Youtube tutorial. Start with the ingredients listed below.




5.5 kg uncooked ham (bone in or deboned)

1 stalk celery

1/2 carrot

1/2 leek

1 whole onion, skin on

Enough water to cover ham



1 cup light brown sugar

1 cup port

2 ladles ham stock

zest of 1/2 orange

1 star anise

1 tbsp honey

2 tbsp sweet mustard

ground black pepper


Purchase a nice size ham with a decent fat covering under the skin, very important. You will want to score this later on during the cooking process. We chose a 5.5 kg monster from our local butchers. I have never bought ham before so we kinda winged it. We felt 5.5 kg would shrink a little during the cooking period and will still be enough to feed a crowd.





It came already pickled and brined, but I don’t think it was smoked. Trouble was finding a pot big enough to boil this sucker. YouTube Informs me that all hams start off by being boiled for a couple hours in a large stock pot. I don’t have one.

Saving grace was that I owned a rather large crockpot … only down side to that would be that it will have to cook in there for 3x as long. Lucky for me it juuuuuuust fit in there. Like JUST!

I could not get the lid on the pot so I ended up using tin foil like a tent because the top part of the joint stuck out. It looks a right mess I know but it will get better, I swear.





I left in stewing in the pot for 3 hrs on high, then I flipped it over to cook the other side for a further 3 hrs on low. I took a nap in between.

After 6 hrs I gently raised the hunk of meat out of the pot and let it cool on a tray. Be very careful with the skin and fat at they are so jelly-like at this point you risk tearing them off the meat. It is imperative that you keep the fat layer intact.

Cut off the strings and GENTLY peel of the skin. Discard skin and GENTLY score the fat later.

Stud each square with cloves. Don’t ask me why …. YouTube made me do it.
For the glaze, I just dumped everything in the pot and boiled and boiled it down to a syrup. Only managed to burn the first batch … no biggie.

Place ham onto roasting rack and place into roasting tray. Drizzle and paint the ham with the reduction ensuring it gets into the cracks and in between the scoring on the fat.

Roast at 200ºC for a good 20 – 30 mins to get a nice crust going. Any drippings in the bottom of the pan is then used to baste the ham intermittently later on.





Pour over the other half of the glaze, turn down the oven temperature to 180ºC and bake for 30 – 40 mins until a deep dark brown. The sugar would have caramelized and formed a nice crust. As the ham cools it will even get crunchy. Keep a close eye on the oven and don’t let the sugar burn on the tray. Once you are happy with the colour, remove it from the oven and let cool to room temp. You can serve this warm or cold …. either way it was delicious!! I tasted some as it came out of the oven and it was so moist and tender, almost didn’t want to give it away.






Two days later it went to the office for the office party in once piece. Happily, I can report that everybody thought it was amazing and only off cuts were left at the end of the afternoon. There were less people there than initially thought but it was a fun couple of hours regardless.





Now this was really a confidence booster. In future I won’t be so afraid of baking my own ham and will probably make one for Christmas at home for dinner. Not as scary as I initially thought it would be.

I had a lot of fun creating this entire table of food … recipes to follow.

Anyhow Merry Christmas and happy new year ahead!



~ Enjoy ~





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