How to Cook a Gammon / Ham
One question I am most asked about Gammons / Hams is how to cook it. In South Africa, we call hams, gammons. I will call it gammons for the sake of this discussion.
Boneless or Bone-in
Bone in gammons are better than boneless. The bone adds to the flavour profile and presentation. It’s also ideal to flavour soups or broths after you enjoyed the gammon.
A good compromise is semi-boneless gammon gammon. The shank bone is removed but the leg bone is left in. It makes it easier to carve, but the benefits of bone-in are still there.
Injected or not Injected
Select a gammon with no added water. Producers will inject salt, spices and curing agents. A good rule of thumb for a quality product is that the weight after injection and smoking should be the same as before it was injected. On average, a gammon looses about 10% moisture during smoking and drying (depending on the producer) in the factory and injection should therefore not be over 10% of the initial weight. The label should show no added water added. It should read “100% pork meat.”
Cooking in water?
Be careful not to add too much water or wine in the pan while cooking the gammon. If there is too much liquid, the gammon will boil instead of bake. Add about half a cup of water to prevent the meat from sticking to the pan. We do not intend this for basting. The melting fat will keep the meat moist.
Cover it Up!
The secret of good gammon cooking is to cover the gammon with aluminum foil while it cooks. This prevents the meat from drying out.
Making your own glaze is fun and I will add ideas in this post. Send me your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Try to blend sweet and savoury flavours. A good start is brown sugar, honey and mustard.
Don’t apply it too soon! You don’t want it to burn.
Cooking Procedure – Low and Slow
Pre-heat your oven to 65 deg C/ 150 deg F.
Use a thermometer which is inserted close to the bone to monitor the temperature. Without this, you are flying blind!
How long should it cook? Until its done! The target is an internal temperature of 145 deg F / 63 deg C. No two gammons are the same just as every oven is different. Check it regularly. Overcooking will dry the gammon out.
Ensure you don’t burn it, but you also want to caramelise the glaze. So, the last 15 to 20 minutes – increase the temperature of 450 deg F / 233 deg C. Continue to monitor it very carefully.
Remove from the oven when the thermometer is at 140 deg F / 60 deg C. The meat will continue cooking outside the oven.
Rest the gammon for about 15 minutes after you remove it from the oven. It allows the gammon to finish cooking and the juices to be absorbed into the meat again.
This article is based on the following video.
Photo of Maple glazed ham: https://www.delicious.com.au/recipes/maple-glazed-ham/9d11c830-4ba3-4c85-9c71-51fc1d79f4e2