With a deluge of cheap, lacklustre options so readily available, we often forget how good ham can be. Glazed and cut into thick slices, it’s so much more than just a simple, throwaway sandwich filling, it’s yet another delicious cut of pig. Glazed ham is also perfect with pease pudding, in place of a Sunday roast; to be cooked ahead and cherished for cold cuts; or as a Christmas dinner alternative, with turkeys said to be in short supply this winter.
After being simmered with herbs, spices and aromatics, the ham is left to cool in its braising liquid, then finished in the oven with a rich glaze of honey and wholegrain mustard, loosened with a drop of stout or porter beer. It’s then sliced thick and served with pease pudding: a traditional dish most popular in the north-east of England, usually made by boiling dried yellow split peas with water, salt and spices.
Although the dish remains popular in the north-east, pease pudding has fallen out of favour in other parts of the country. In pre-war London, for instance, pease pudding shops were common alongside pie and mash shops, serving pease pudding with saveloy and faggots. Bright yellow with texture that’s somewhere between mushy peas and hummus, pease pudding is well suited to the saltiness of ham. While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the traditional recipe, this version favours chicken stock instead of water, also bolstered with carrot, bay and thyme; slowly simmered, blended then irrigated with butter, chilli vinegar and an optional (entirely untraditional) fistful of parmesan before serving.
For the pease pudding averse, the ham is also delicious with crispy roast potatoes and bubble and squeak; or served cold with piccalilli and other pickles as a Boxing Day style dinner.
For the ham
- 3 kg unsmoked gammon joint
- 1 onion quartered
- 8 black peppercorns
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 8 cloves
- Bouquet garni 1 or 2 bags
- 500 ml stout or porter beer
- 4 tbsp honey
- 4 tbsp wholegrain mustard
- 3 tbsp dark brown sugar
For the pease pudding
- 500 g yellow split peas
- 1 onion finely sliced
- 1 large carrot peeled and finely chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 sprigs thyme
- ½ tsp grated nutmeg
- 100 g butter
- 2 tbsp chilli vinegar malt vinegar will work otherwise
- Sea salt
- White pepper
- Parmesan optional
- Soak the peas in cold water and leave overnight.
- To cook the ham, add a trivet or upside down saucer/side plate to a large pan, then top with the gammon. If the gammon is tied with string, leave intact. Add the onion, peppercorns, cloves, thyme, bay and bouquet garni to the pan, alongside two-thirds of the beer. Then fill the pan with enough cold water to cover the meat.
- Cover the pan, slowly bring to the boil and simmer for approximately 2 hours (20 minutes per 500g). Add more boiling water to the pan if necessary. Cool in the cooking water for at least 30 minutes.
- Make the pease pudding while the ham is simmering and cooling.
- Melt a knob of butter in a medium saucepan and add the onion and carrot, fry on a medium-low heat for 10 minutes until soft and translucent.
- Drain the soaked peas and add to the saucepan alongside the bay leaves, thyme, nutmeg, and a generous amount of both salt and white pepper.
- Cover with a litre of chicken stock then bring to the boil and skim any scum that rises to the top of the pan.
- Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for around 2 hours or until the peas are soft. Add more water to the pan if needed. Once cooked, remove the bay leaf and thyme then blend until smooth. Add a generous amount of vinegar and the rest of the butter, plus more salt and pepper if need be. Also optionally add a generous fistful of parmesan and stir in. Keep warm if ready before the ham.
- To finish the ham, mix the mustard, honey and sugar, then add a splash of stout to loosen the consistency slightly.
- Transfer the ham to a baking tin and cut a small slice off of the bottom so it stands without falling over. Pour over the glaze, season with salt, and place in the oven at 200C/Gas 6 for 30 minutes, basting every ten minutes.
- Slice thick and serve with the pease pudding.