One of the most frequently asked questions I am asked at this time of the year is …..

How do I cook the gammon?

Gammon is cooked in 2 stages

The first, to cook the meat, and thereafter to glaze the gammon. If you do not want the sticky coating you may simply follow the first stage. You can also cook it a day before and simply glaze it on the day that you are going to serve it.

In bygone days the gammons were often over salted and the cooking process was preceded by soaking the joint in cold water for at least half a day prior to cooking to leach out some of the salt. The best cooking methods for gammon was boiling.

Thankfully modern curing and the rigid control of salt of salt levels in foods have made the cooking less arduous. The cooking method that I prefer is what I call a ‘moist roast’.

Some prefer to remove the net before cooking, others leave it on and remove it after cooking. The net is usually used on deboned gammons to retain the shape. I usually keep the net on for the first stage of cooking.

I prefer boneless gammons for easy carving and even cooking.

Seasoning rings the changes

I play around with various seasoning in the base of the roasting pan, place the gammon in and then add liquid….. not water, but something that will add flavour! The rough cut vegetables or flavouring on the base elevates the meat preventing the base from over cooking.

Ginger, garlic, 5 spice powder, star anise and fennel seeds season the Asian version

The liquid

The liquid steams the meat, ensuring that the gammon is moist.

Place the gammon onto the seasoning base and add the liquid in 2 stages, half to begin with and the rest halfway through cooking.

Cover with foil.


at 180°C for 30 minutes per 500g plus an additional 20 minutes. For bone-in gammon allow an extra 30 minutes cooking time.

Once cooked, allow the gammon to cool in the cooking liquid. When you are ready to glaze the gammon remove the protective net.

Pour off the cooking liquid but DO NOT discard it. If you have left over gammon place it in a deep dish and pour the cooking liquid into the dish. This will set as a gel in the fridge and keep the meat beautifully moist. Do not refrigerate left over gammon for more than 5 days.

To glaze the gammon

Using a sharp knife remove the tough skin. If the gammon is very fatty try to trim the fat to approximately 1cm thick. Gently score the fat about 5mm deep. Traditionally diamond shapes are cut. You can complete up to this stage the day before. If you are not going to consume the gammon on the day it must be refrigerated.

If refrigerated, remove the gammon 2 hours before required to reach room temperature.

Mix the glaze ingredients and spread it over the gammon, trying to get the glaze to go into the slits in the fat.

Place the gammon in a 200°C oven and bake for 20-30 minutes or until the glaze bubbles and begins to brown. You can also grill it, but then you must watch it to prevent burning.

Once out of the oven, add the decoration and if desired, return it to the oven to grill lightly brown any fruit decoration. Just add the bay leaves after grilling!

Here are some ideas here for a 2-3kg gammon


In the roasting pan place:

2 onions cut into wedges or 1cm thick rings

2-3 carrots cut into thick rings

2-3 sticks celery coarsely sliced

2-3 bay leaves

6-8 whole cloves

1ml whole peppercorns

750ml white wine or ginger ale


200ml honey or apricot jam

20ml Dijon or hot English mustard


you can add the decoration before the final bake

About 20 whole cloves

About 10 glace cherries, halved

Slices of pineapple are also traditionally used. Try to use fresh pineapple, but if need be you may use tinned. I like using wedges of pineapple on wooden or metal kebab sticks. You simply grill them in the oven or on a grill pan and skewer them into the gammon at an angle, giving a rather flamboyant display. Each person the gets their own skewer of grilled pineapple!



This brings the pork and apple tradition to Christmas. I like this as it is not sweet and you get a yummy sauce.

In the roasting pan place:

2 onions cut into wedges or 1cm thick slices

5cm fresh root ginger, cut into thin slices

3 granny smith or other cooking apples, cut into about 8 wedges

6-8 whole cloves

1ml whole peppercorns

500ml apple clear or cloudy juice

500ml apple cider


200ml apricot jam

20ml Dijon mustard


About 10 dried apple rings

About 6 pitted prunes or 20 dried cranberries

100ml brandy and 200ml apple juice to soak the above apple, prunes and/or cranberries for about 6 hours or longer. Arrange the fruit on the gammon and pour the glaze over before the final bake

6-7 whole bay leaves painted gold with edible paint, add after the final bake

The Sauce

This is the only base that makes a delicious sauce. Strain all the ‘solids’ from the cooking liquid. Remove the whole cloves and some of the peppercorns. (use whole cloves and part of the decoration, if you wish!) Place the remaining ‘solids’ in a blender and add some of the cooking liquid until you get a creamy consistency. Heat this and serve as a sauce.



In the roasting pan place

2 onions cut into wedges or 1cm thick slices

5cm thick root ginger, cut into thin slices

10ml 5-Spice powder

1ml fennel seeds

10ml chilli flakes or 1 whole chilli sliced

3 cloves garlic sliced

5 -7 star anise

500ml ginger beer

500ml white wine


200ml honey

10ml sweet (Indonesian) soy sauce

10ml five spice powder

Mix above and glaze gammon


6-8 fresh apricots, pitted and halved

4 yellow fleshed nectarines cut into slices

100ml honey

1ml chilli flakes or one small red chilli thinly sliced

Heat the honey and chilli in a flat pan. Add the fruit and heat until the fruit caramelises.

Arrange the fruit on the gammon and decorate with a few small whole red chillies