Irish Ham

Irish ham has been the best culinary discovery in Ireland. I have always thought that Polish smoked meat is the best in the world but Irish ham is also very good. Ham sold in supermarkets is made by several big companies. I was surprised by the taste of Irish ham. Irish ham is pickled in brine, then smoked over peat or over juniper. This gives it a spicy, evergreen taste that is difficult to find in other types of ham. It is simply delicious. Ham is made in several types and each has a various taste by adding some spice but all are smoked and all taste very well. Irish ham is served cold with sandwiches or hot as the main dish for dinner.

During my trips around Ireland I often eat ham with cabbage for dinner. In all traditional Irish pubs there is always smoked ham and bacon on the dinner menu.
The Irish are avid smokers. In many country cottages ham was smoked on two beams over the fireplace. Smokehouses exist all over Ireland. The Irish seem to smoke anything that runs, swims or flies, from beef and pork to pheasant and chicken, and from salmon, haddock and eel to trout, cod and herring. Currently there are more than a dozen smokehouses in Ireland which smoke ham in a traditional way.
Baked and smoked ham is served during Christmas dinner in all Irish homes and that type of ham is the one that I like the most and I serve it not only at Christmas.

Christmas Ham

Irish Smoked Whole Ham on the Bone
10g Whole cloves
1 cup brown sugar -
1 tbsp Balsamic or cider vinegar
½ tsp mustard
Orange slices
Maraschino cherries

Heat the oven to 160° C. Place the ham, fat side up, on the rack in a shallow roasting pan. Insert a meat thermometer so the tip is in the thickest part of the ham and does not touch the bone or rest in fat. Bake 1¼ to 2¼ hours or until thermometer reads 60°C (13 to 17 minutes per half a kilo).

About 20 minutes before the ham is done, remove it from the oven. Pour drippings from the pan and remove any skin from the ham. Cut it into uniform diamond shapes on the fat surface of the ham. Insert a clove into each diamond. Stir brown sugar, vinegar and mustard together; then pat or brush onto the ham.

Bake uncovered for another 20 minutes. Cover the ham and let it stand for about 10 minutes or until the thermometer reads 70°C. Garnish with orange slices and cherries to serve hot with potatoes and salads.

Any leftovers can be used in sandwiches or salads and you can save the bone for making soup!.




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