Perfect Spiced Aromatic Ham

December 31, 2015

As the party clock struck 11pm (see previous post) and the naughty punch munchies kicked in, we served platters of Brie and Cheddar, hunks of French bread, slices of turkey and the most divine spiced aromatic ham to our guests. I discovered Nigella’s recipe for this incredible smelling gammon five years ago and it is swiftly becoming a festive baking tradition chez Watts.  Simmering gently on the hob for two hours, the aroma that wafts from the kitchen is a heady mix of fennel, star anise, coriander, red wine and garlic.  The cooking is almost as good as the eating.

So many people asked for the recipe I thought I’d share it with you as I’m baking another for our family New Year’s Day buffet.  The ease of its making belies its incredible flavour. The speed it was devoured at the party was happy testament to its simple gorgeousness.

Spiced Aromatic Ham Ingredients

For the ham

  • 2.25-2.75kg / 4lb 15oz-6lb 1oz boneless mild-cure gammon.
  • 250ml / 8 3/4 fl oz red wine.
  • 3 litres / 5 pints 5 1/2 fl oz water (approx).
  • 1 large onion, halved.
  • 2 garlic cloves, unpeeled.
  • 1 head fennel, halved.
  • 2 star anise.
  • 1 tbsp coriander seed.
  • 1 tbsp fennel seed.
  • 1 tbsp mixed peppercorns.

For the glaze

  • Approximately 16 whole cloves.
  • 4 tbsp red currant jelly.
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon.
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika.
  • 1/2 tsp red wine vinegar.


  1. Place the gammon in a large saucepan.
  2. Add all the ingredients for the ham to the pan, adding some more water if the ham isn’t covered.
  3. Bring to the boil, before reducing the heat to a simmer and partially covering the pan. Cook for about two and a half to three hours – allow approximately one hour per kilo simmering time, plus an extra 15 minutes.
  4. When you are ready to glaze the ham, preheat the oven to 230C/440F/Gas8.
  5. Remove the ham from the liquid and sit the ham on a board. Strip off the rind and a little layer of the fat if it is very thick, and cut a diamond pattern into the remaining fat with a sharp knife in lines of about 2cm / 3/4 inch apart.
  6. Stud each diamond with a clove. Put the jelly, cinnamon, paprika and red wine vinegar into a saucepan and whisk together over a high heat bringing it to the boil. Let the pan bubble away so that the glaze reduces to a syrup-like consistency.
  7. Place a layer of foil over a roasting tray big enough to hold the ham. Place the ham on top of the foil.
  8. Pour the glaze over the clove-studded ham (I use a pastry brush to evenly coat the fat and cloves and use up all the sticky glaze). Transfer the ham to the oven.
  9. Cook for about 15 minutes, or until the glazed fat is burnished.
  10. Allow the meat to rest in a warm place before carving it.

I’ve made this a couple of days ahead and, if kept in the fridge, it is perfect served cold for a buffet.

Hope you enjoy it. I’ll be serving it with mini jacket potatoes crusted in salt, salad, loads of chutney and pickles and Delia’s winter slaw (recipe to follow).

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  • Reply Helen Nash January 3, 2016 at 2:09 pm

    I made this yesterday for 16 people. Lots of very positive comments. It tasted delicious. Instead of putting it in the oven, I put it in the slow cooker. It melted in the mouth. Thanks for sharing the recipe Sam. x

    • Reply wattssam1971 January 3, 2016 at 2:31 pm

      Great to hear Helen. Thanks for the slow cooker tip too.

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