Cooking Christmas dinner is no easy feat, even for the most experienced cooks in the house. To take the load off slightly, we’ve put together this easy guide to help with everything from start to finish.
What is the best ham for Christmas?
This depends on a lot of things, which is why we offer five ham options depending on your taste preferences, traditions and how many you are cooking for.
McLoughlin’s free range champagne hams
For those that don’t want to boil a ham themselves, this is the ham we recommend the most. Our champagne hams are cooked the same way our traditional leg ham are. We soak them in our traditional brine and then place them in the cookers and double smoke them overnight. This results in a succulent ham with a hint of smokiness, which goes well when finished with a sweet
The main benefit with the champagne hams is that we have deboned them, so you don’t need to carve around the bone which makes things easy. We leave the top of the shank on for grip, which is why we brand these as ‘semi boneless’.
To maintain presentation, we cut the leg lengthways instead of in half like a normal half ham. This means you can still peel the skin and glaze as you would a normal half ham.
McLoughlin’s free range bone-in hams
As mentioned above, these are cooked and finished the same way as our champagne hams. For those who prefer the traditional bone-in half ham, this is the go-to option.
Boneless gourmet hams
These are prepared like our traditional leg hams, however they are completely boneless. These don’t require any preparation and are easy to store. Note that the boneless hams don’t have a layer of fat like traditional or champagne hams which most people like when glazing hams themselves.
If you would like a ham that has a sweet/salty flavour combination but you don’t want to glaze it yourself, we offer a boneless gourmet ham that is cured using a sweet maple glaze. Yum!
Irish gammon hams
Also referred to as ‘raw gammon’ or a ‘gammon joint’, these are the traditional Irish/UK style gammon hams that you boil and bake yourself. We prepare these using West Australian pork legs, which are soaked overnight in our traditional Irish brine.
We string them by hand to maintain their shape and then they can be cut as fillet ends or middle joints, or can be purchased as whole legs (approx. 7kg).
Irish gammon loins
These are similar to our raw gammon hams, except are prepared using the loin rather than the leg. We offer these as an option to those who want a raw gammon that is less than 2kg in size (we don’t offer gammon leg cuts less than 2kg in size as they lose their shape when boiled).
Raw gammon loins are perfect for those who are feeding 2-4 people, with minimum leftovers, yet still want to have a traditional boil and bake style ham.
What size Christmas ham do I need?
As a general rule of thumb, you should plan for approximately 250g – 300g of ham per person.
However, this doesn’t take into account how hungry your guests are, whether or not your ham is the feature of the meal and how much leftovers you would like for the coming days. We have estimated some ham size guides for you below, taking into account If you enjoy leftovers for the next few days.
Ham size estimates per person:
● 3kg ham size for 6-8 adults, including leftovers
● 4kg ham size for 8-10 adults, including leftovers
● 5kg ham size for 10-12 adults, including leftovers
● 10 kg ham size for 20-24 adults, including leftovers
How do I cook my Christmas ham?
This depends on what type of ham you are going for. If you are purchasing a raw gammon ham, you need to boil these first and then finish them off in the oven. Our go-to recipe for a boil and bake gammon ham is Nigella Lawson’s coca-cola ham recipe.
If you are buying a smoked half or champagne ham, these are already cooked, meaning you can carve and serve cold, or apply a glaze and roast in the oven, then serve warm. We have suggested three roast ham glaze recipes which pair perfectly with our smoked leg hams.
How to store Christmas ham
To keep your ham fresh and juicy over the coming days, when storing it in the fridge wrap it in clean tea towels, a pillow case or a purpose made ham bag (please ask for one in the shop!). Every couple of days wash the tea towel or ham bag then soak in water with a splash of vinegar, dry the bag and then place the ham back in.
We suggest to only slice as much as you need during your meal, as the meat will stay juicy for longer as a whole piece rather than being sliced up. If you have the luxury of plenty of fridge space during this time, try to keep it away from the bottom/back of the fridge where it is the coldest.
If you are stuck for fridge space, you can cut the ham into chunks and wrap in cling film then foil, storing in the fridge or freezer.
How long does Christmas ham last?
When stored correctly, Christmas ham will last up to 14 days in the fridge.
If you want to freeze your ham, we suggest to slice first then divide into freezer pouches. This way you can take out and use one pouch at a time. Ham can be stored for up to 3 months in the freezer.
How to use leftover Christmas ham
We’ve put together a short list of some of the great meals to make using your leftover Christmas ham:
● Classic ham sandwiches with stuffing, dijon mustard and your favourite fillings
● Stacked cheese toasties
● Omelets with diced ham
● Breakfast croissants
● Ham and leek pie
● Quiche with spinach and ham
● Penne ham pasta
● Ham and cheese jambons
● Pea and ham soup
Above all else, there’s nothing quite like coming home to the fridge and picking away at some ham, turkey and sides over the next couple of days.