Cooking a Ham


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How to cook Ham


Cuts of ham and bacon are widely available smoked or unsmoked. Gammon ham generally provides the best texture and flavor. The quality of the ham is improved if it is dry cured and/or from pork carefully reared and fed. Which ever type you choose these basic tips will help you prepare it.


A raw ham or piece of bacon is often soaked for between 12-24 hours in cold water. This is done to reduce the saltiness. Soak

If your time is limited you can place the ham in a saucepan of cold water bring to the boil and discard the water. Replace with fresh water and bring back to the boil.

If you decide to bake your piece of ham without boiling then soaking is especially recommended.



Place the ham in a saucepan of cold water then bring to the simmer in fresh cold water and cook for 30 mins skimming the surface of scum occasionally; As stated above if the water is still very salty discard it and replace with fresh cold water bring to the boil and subtract 30 minutes from the cooking time.

Add seasoning such as onions, apples, wine, cider, bay leaf, peppercorns, allspice berries, star anise and cloves to the water if desired.

Cooking Time:
Cover and simmer for approx 40 minutes per Kilo (20 minutes a lb).
If over 5Kg (10lb) in weight reduce this to between 30 and 35 minutes per Kilo. 15 -17 minutes a pound. If under 2kg increase to 60 minutes a Kilo

Let the ham cool in its cooking liquid then drain it, peel of the skin and trim all but 1/2 in of fat.
Note that the ham will continue to cook in the water as it cools so don't do this if you want a firm ham.

Plain Finishing:

Remove any skin from the cooked meat. The fat can be scored and breaded if finished plain. The bread crumbs can be mixed with parsley and mustard powder.

A classic finish is to allow to cool fully then coat with a chaudfroid sauce. This is a white sauce set with aspic which can be further decorated.

Ham can be baked after boiling or it can be cooked in a oven at 350F/175C/Gas 4 for 10 minutes a pound, 20 mins per Kilo.
Wrap in silver foil for all but the last 30 minutes of cooking to prevent drying out, especially if cooking a small joint.

Baste regularly. Test by piercing to check it is tender or 170F/75C with thermometer.

Baked ham is sometimes studded with cloves to add flavor.

If you want to bake or braise then score the fat.

Finish with glaze and continue cooking for an additional 20 minutes a Kilo at gas 4/350F/175C.

Glazes for baked Ham:
A glaze can be poured or rubbed into a ham to add flavor
before baking. Here are some examples of favorites:

apple juice with honey

soy sauce with brown sugar & sherry

maple syrup


Heat the glaze in a pan and brush or pour over the ham, baste frequently.

see types of Ham