Great Ocean Food: Ham it up this Christmas
It is always a pleasure for me to catch up with ex-customers. It has been three years since I sold my business in Torquay and I miss the friends I made.
We became part of each other’s lives and would talk about the weather, politics and children but the topic of conversation which dominated all else was food. We discussed countless recipes and ingredients and it never ceased to amaze me how often you would learn a new technique or pass on a tip or two.
I met up with a customer last week and we reminisced. She implored me to include my ham glaze in this week’s article. At the risk of repeating myself, the recipe follows. It was great to catch up and share a passion for the food we eat and the region in which we live. We both agreed we were incredibly fortunate to live near the sea with all the facilities of modern life so close by. (It’s a secret I implore people to keep).
When I holidayed on the Bellarine and Surfcoast as a child there was almost no such thing as cafes. People did not go out for coffee and they certainly did not eat out at breakfast time. Occasionally we would have a sausage roll and milkshake from the milk bar after a morning surf, but this hardly qualifies as dining out.
Some people pine for the old days of coastal towns and I do understand this. I recall the magical and seemingly endless summers of our childhood through memories of sunburned noses, feet that would take a few weeks to toughen then be impervious to the scorching hot sand, stubbed toes, walking into a patch of ”three corner jacks” and exploring the paddocks which surrounded most coastal towns.
No doubt our children will reminisce on their summers differently than we do. I know my kids have wonderful memories of drinking a lemonade spider at the local café. Nippers will also loom large in their reminiscing as will the cold south wind that seemed to blow most Saturday mornings when they gathered with their friends at the beach.
One memory I think we will both share at this time is preparing the Christmas ham. I suppose somewhat bizarrely, given our climate, baked ham evokes memories of holidays at the beach. It was, and remains, integral to our Christmas and we always had plenty.
We would indulge for breakfast, lunch and dinner well after the Big Man had come down the chimney. It would be eaten fried with eggs, in an omelette, or, my favourite, sliced off the bone with toast and tomato relish or mustard.
Christmas Ham Glaze
One cup brown sugar
Half cup Dijon mustard
Half cup orange juice
100ml maple syrup
Carefully peel the skin back from the ham. Use your hands to push the skin gently away from the fat. This ensures a beautifully smooth ham. Using a small sharp knife, score the ham fat in a diamond pattern being careful not to cut the flesh. Place a clove in the centre of each diamond. Combine other ingredients and mix well. Brush liberally over the ham. Bake in 180°C for approximately an hour to an hour and a half (depending on size). Baste often with the remaining glaze. The outside of the ham will turn a beautiful golden brown.