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Home-cured Christmas gammon

  • A little tricky

Steven Lamb from River Cottage shares his top recipe for cider-cured Boxing Day gammon

Home cured Christmas gammon recipe (Photo by: Rawpixel via Getty Images)

There are few better partnerships than pork and apple.

This dish employs the technique of brining, which might seem daunting to the uninitiated but is really simple and effective. In essence, a brine is a way of adding flavour and moistness into a joint of meat. The quantities here are for a small gammon leg joint, bone in or boned-out.

Fillet of beef with horseradish (Photo by: BBC Good Food)

Here’s Steven Lamb’s best recipe for boxing day gammon

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Ingredients

For the brine

  • salt 180g
  • Pressed apple juice 1 litre, not from concentrate
  • Strong dry cider 1 litre
  • water 4 litres
  • demerara sugar 200g
  • Dark brown sugar or black treacle 200g
  • juniper berries 20-30
  • Crushed black peppercorns 30g
  • bay leaves 10, crushed
  • cloves 10
  • A small gammon leg joint

For the glaze

  • Honey 100g
  • English mustard 2 tbsp

Method

  • Step 1

    Heat all the brine ingredients in a large pan until the salt and sugar have dissolved, then leave to cool completely. Transfer to a non-metallic container and chill to 3–4°C.

  • Step 2

    Place your piece of pork, also chilled, in the tub and submerge it completely, using a plate to weight it down. Leave the pork in the brine, in the coolest place you can find, for 3 days for every 500g of pork (pork weighing 1kg would be submerged in the brine for 6 days). If you want the gammon ready for Boxing Day, calculate the day it goes into the brine by weighing it and counting backwards from 26 December.

  • Step 3

    After its allotted time, remove the ham from the cure, wipe it dry with a clean tea towel and place in a pot of clean, cold water. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for 2–5 hours, depending on the size of the meat. When you can easily push a metal skewer through the meat it is ready; turn the heat off at that point. Allow the meat to cool slightly in the liquid until you can lift it out without burning your hands.

  • Step 4

    Remove the outer skin with a sharp knife but leave behind a nice covering of fat.

  • Step 5

    Turn the oven up to 180°C/gas mark 4. Score the fat in a diamond pattern and mix the honey and mustard glaze.

  • Step 6

    Spread the glaze over the fat and bake for 40–60 minutes to finish it off. I choose not to stud the gammon with cloves, as I find them too strong, but you can if you want a traditional look. Slice and serve either hot or cold.

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