Pickled Fig Glazed Ham
Step 1: What a tradition this is in my family, starting with early memories of Mum boiling a ham in the copper – an age before my daughter Saskia started her Black Pig range of local Berkshire pig products. Now that Saskia’s products are so close to hand it’s amazing how often I find I can use a glazed leg of ham at the centre of the table. Just recently, I’ve glazed a leg of ham for: a post-wedding brunch party; the choir singing at the 11 am timeslot at the Barossa markets, after which everyone is ravenous; a staff information night at the Farmshop; and a wine tasting where I wanted to ensure I offered something substantial. A slice or two of ham with some good local bread and pickles alongside is so simple to prepare yet it makes such a statement. Whatever size leg of ham you buy, the process of glazing will still be the same – simply reduce the cooking time for a smaller leg.
Step 2: Take the ham out of the fridge and leave for 1 hour to come to room temperature (this also makes it easier to strip off the skin).
Step 3: Preheat the oven to its highest heat setting – usually 240°C or 250°C (fan-forced or conventional).
Step 4: Strip the leathery skin from the ham, being careful not to remove any fat from underneath – you are after a 5 mm–1 cm layer of fat. Score the fat quite deeply into a diamond pattern, taking care not to cut through to the meat. The size of the diamonds should suit the size of the fruit you will use to decorate.
Step 5: To make the pickled fig glaze, mix the vino cotto, mustard and ¼ cup (60 ml) of the pickled fig syrup into a paste and rub half the mixture over the top and sides of the ham.
Step 6: Place the ham in a roasting pan on a trivet covered with baking paper, add ½ cup (125 ml) of the water to the pan and bake for 8 minutes. Brush the ham with some of the remaining fig glaze, then turn the pan around and bake for another 20 minutes. You are looking for a good even burnish over the fat (if it starts to burn, add a little more water to the pan).
Step 7: Remove the pan from the oven, then brush more glaze over the ham. Place the fig halves on the diamond shapes and carefully hold them in place with toothpicks or cloves, then brush the remaining glaze over the figs.
Step 8: Reduce the oven temperature to 220°C fan-forced (240°C conventional). Add the remaining water to the pan to prevent the pan juices from burning. Bake the ham for another 15 minutes or until it is beautifully glazed, then leave to cool.
Step 9: Proudly place the glazed ham at the centre of your table, then cut into slices and serve.
Step 10: To store the leftover ham, put a reasonable amount of cold water in a large bowl in the sink and add ¼ cup (60 ml) white vinegar. Rinse a clean pillow case, calico flour bag or large tea towel in the water and vinegar mixture, making sure it is totally wet. Wring out the material, taking care that it is still moist, then wrap the ham inside. Repeat this with a clean pillow case, calico bag or tea towel every couple of days and the ham will easily keep in the fridge for up to 10 days.