Christmas ham

Christmas Ham

Growing up we had many Christmas traditions but gammon / a Christmas ham always featured.  Christmas dinner was always a bird of some sort (usually Turkey, but goose and multibird roasts also made notable appearances) but Boxing Day was always about the cold cuts - the bird from Christmas dinner, a homemade pork pie and a Christmas ham all served with jacket potatoes, a selection of homemade chutneys/pickles and a light salad.  Later in the Christmas holidays we’d get together with the other side of the family & it would nearly always be a glazed ham with all the roast dinner trimmings.  So, here’s a Fat Daniel’s take on the Christmas ham with some Christmasy spices, some sweet, fruity notes and a decidedly grown up boozy kick.  Serve it hot or cold and enjoy!


For the Ham

  • 1 Gammon joint, smoked or unsmoked*, rolled and tied
  • Root beer (Dr Pepper) enough to cover
  • 1 Tblsp black pepper corns
  • 1 Tblsp Coriander seeds
  • 1 Star Anise
  • 2 Bay leaves


  • Cloves, for studding


For the Glaze

  • 340 g/12 oz jar of Black Cherry Conserve
  • 250 ml/8½ fl oz Bourbon Whiskey
  • 50 ml/1¾ fl oz Cherry Juice (tart/sharp if possible)
  • 2 in piece (about a thumb and a quarter/thumb and a half) of Root Ginger, grated
  • 2 Tblsp light soft brown sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon


  • Weigh the gammon joint and make a note of the weight.
  • Put the gammon in a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Rinse, drain and cover with water again. Allow to soak overnight.
  • Drain and rinse again.
  • With the gammon in an otherwise empty pan, add the spices to the pan (not the cloves).
  • Add enough root beer to just cover the gammon joint.
  • Bring to the boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer, for 20 mins per pound/500 g until the ham is cooked through (the internal temperature should reach 68°C/154°F).
  • Turn off the heat and leave to cool for 20-30 mins before transferring to a plate. Allow to cool for at least another hour before placing in the fridge overnight.  Strain and reserve the cooking liquor **
  • While the gammon is boiling, make the glaze.
  • Place all of the glaze ingredients in a saucepan and place over a gentle heat, stirring to prevent sticking, until the jam and sugar have dissolved.
  • Blend the pan contents with a hand-held/stick blender to get it as smooth as possible.
  • Bring to the boil and simmer for 15-30 mins, until the liquid has reduced enough to coat the back of a spoon.
  • Pass the glaze through a sieve to remove any solids and set aside.
  • Next day, remove the gammon from the fridge.
  • Light your BBQ or smoker and set it for a temp of 180-200°C/355-390°F.
  • Cut the string off your gammon and cut away the outer rind, leaving at least half the thickness of fat underneath attached to the ham.
  • Score a diamond pattern into the fat and stud with a clove in each corner.
  • Brush the glaze over the ham, making sure you cover the ham completely.
  • Place the gammon in your BBQ/smoker and cook, basting with glaze every 10 mins for 3 to 4 applications until the meat has a rich thick glaze.
  • After the last application of the glaze, cook for a further 10 mins until the well browned, glistening and slightly gnarly.
  • If serving hot allow to rest for 15 mins before carving.



Gammon joints vary considerably in size and you should select one according to the number of people you are looking to feed.  I tend to get a whole gammon (boned, rolled & tied) which comes in around the 6 kg/13 lb mark as there’s always plenty of ways to use up any leftovers but, personally, in order to keep the meat juicy & succulent I wouldn’t go below 2.5‑3 kg/5‑6 lb 8 oz, which will comfortably serve 8.  If you are cooking a ham of this smaller size you should reduce the glaze ingredients by half otherwise you will not use up all the glaze when cooking the ham on the BBQ.


In my book a Christmas ham should always have a good lick of smoke to it but whether you buy a smoked or an unsmoked gammon joint is entirely up to you.  If you are planning to cook the gammon in a gas BBQ or the oven in your home I would tend to recommend a smoked gammon (you’ll not get any smoke flavour otherwise).  However, if you’re cooking this over coals or in a smoker I’d say go for an unsmoked gammon as this allows you to adjust the type of woods you use and tailor the smoke profile to your own liking.


Never let it be said that you can’t multi-task.  While this recipe is all about the Christmas ham there is another string to its bow.  If you strain and reserve the cooking liquor you boiled the gammon in this makes an awesome base for some good old BBQ beans.