25 December 2007

Christmas Ham

It is finally Christmas Day and this year I've made traditional Swedish Christmas Ham.

I ordered it from the butcher's a couple of weeks ago - a cured but uncooked piece of ham - about 4 kg and with all the fatty crackling still on and tied with a string net.

There are two ways to cook it - roast or boil and I opted for boiling, as it'll take out some of the saltiness.

It needs a thorough rinsing with cold water, then pat dry with kitchen towels. Place in a deep enough pot, add a couple of carrots and an onion cut in large chunks, along with a couple of bay leaves and around 25 allspice corns. Though having a sniff at them, they can be replaced by regular pepper corns.

Top up with water to cover the ham, stick a meat thermometer into the thickest part and bring to the boil. Turn down to low heat and leave to boil for about 3.5 hours (generally 1 h per kg ham), the middle of the ham needs to reach at least 73 degrees. Take of the heat when the temperature has been reached, it'll continue to rise for another couple of degrees before going down again.

Leave to cool, then take out and remove the crackling, it should come off quite easily. If you want, cut it up and deep fry to get it crunchy. I binned it, it was very slimy I thought.

I did this yesterday. I saved the stock too. Generally it can be made into what the Swedes call "dopp i grytan" and translates literally into "dip in the cauldron" - and you have a special bread (vörtbröd) to dip in. This bread has lots of spices and raisins in it, making it sweet and it should have a nice contrast to the salty ham stock. I've saved the stock, but won't do the dip this year as I didn't have time to do the bread. Still, it might be nice to freeze in portions for cooking .

Finally this morning, I did the topping of the ham:

2 egg yolks
5 tbsp Dijon fine mustard
1 tbsp honey
4 tsp cornflour
bread crumbs
whole cloves

The yolks, mustard, honey and cornflour are mixed well and brushed generously onto the ham. Then I coated with the bread crumbs and baked for 20 minutes on gas mark 6 (200 degrees C), just to get the bread crumbs golden brown.

The ham is served cold generally. I haven't tasted it yest, as dinner's an hour away, but it looks and smells very nice.

Just before serving, it can be decorated with the whole cloves.

According to what I've managed to find out, the ham should be big enough to last through every meal between Christmas and New Year.

The alternative is roasting which is what my Mum normally does and she uses the roasting bags, to keep it nice and moist. However, the roasted ham tends to be saltier. Again it should be roasted at gas mark 6 (200 degrees C) with a meat thermometer and is ready when it hits 73 degrees. And the decorating procedure is the same.

Merry Christmas
God Jul
Весела Коледа

Additional: Well, Christmas dinner is over and I must say the ham was very nice and tender. And we ate quite a lot of it already, the rest will be for sandwiches later tonight, probably with the potato bread I made yesterday.

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