An ode to ham – part one: Orange and cardamom glazed ham

Photographer: Emma

I love ham; it reminds me of the Christmas holidays.  Our huge whole ham leg takes up an entire shelf in the fridge.  It’s so heavy at the start of the holiday but as the days pass, more of its bone is exposed and less of the family choose to partake; it’s only the die-hards left.  I am a die-hard.
I remember camping when I was younger; we had a small gas refrigerator as our camp site (the same one for 13 years) didn’t have power. The shelves were removed and the ham took up the entire fridge.  Our other perishable foods along with dad’s beer would be demoted to chilly bins packed with ice.  We would have ham sandwiches for lunch and ham steaks on the gas BBQ for dinner, usually accompanied by sausages, fried potatoes and salad.  I wonder how many times I have eaten that meal.  I have since evolved to using the ham in risottos and pastas.

I played it safe with the finishing of this ham; I kept it simple, sweet and moist, which is perfect if you have plans for your ham beyond Christmas dinner i.e. the glaze won’t overpower your sandwich.

Keep watching for the next instalments of ‘An ode to ham’; a leftover ham torta and the best ham sandwich!


Cooked ham (I used half a ham; take note of the weight as you will need this to work out the cooking time)
Approximately 20 cloves

Coating for ham
Juice and zest of 2 oranges
1 tbsp cardamom
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
4 tbsp brown sugar

Glaze for ham
2 c water
1 c sugar


1. Take the skin off the ham (try not to remove any fat when doing so). Score the fat in diamonds. Place ham in an ovenproof dish.
2. Mix orange juice, grated zest, cardamom, mustard and brown sugar in a small bowl and then spread this over ham with a pastry brush.
You can either marinate the ham overnight or cook straight away.
If you are marinating overnight, wrap and refrigerate.
If you are cooking straight away, preheat the oven to 160ºC on Bake.
3. Pour or ladle off the excess orange juice mixture and save. Stud the scored fat with cloves (at the points of the diamonds).
4. Bake the ham for 20 minutes per kg.
5. While the ham is cooking, mix the water, sugar and leftover orange juice mixture in a saucepan over heat to dissolve the sugar.
6. Fifteen minutes before the end of cooking, increase the oven temperature to 200ºC and baste the ham generously with the sugar syrup as well as ladling the juice collecting in the dish back over the ham.
7. Repeat basting every couple of minutes until the fat has turned golden brown and crispy. Depending on how strong your oven shelves are, you should be able to pull the shelf out a little to baste (instead of removing the ham each time).
8. Once cooked, remove the ham from the oven and let cool in the dish. Display on a large platter and slice to serve.