How to boil a ham, then if you wish, you can bake it with honey, mustard and cloves to finish it off.
To boil the ham:
1. Soak the ham for at least 4 hours in a large pan of cold water to remove the salt. (In the old days, hams were cured in a lot of salt so they would keep – hams are not as salty today so you can ask your butcher if you need to do this. We find supermarket hams are quite salty and need a few hours soaking.)
2. Drain the ham and cover with fresh water. Bring it to the boil over a high heat and skim off any froth or impurities that rise to the surface.
3. Turn the heat down to medium low, so that the water is just lightly bubbling. Simmer the ham for 20 minutes per 450g (1lb).
To bake the ham
1. Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5. When the ham is cooked, drain it and leave it to cool slightly. Remove the outer layer of skin leaving a thin layer of fat behind. Score the skin with a sharp small knife, cutting diagonal lines to make a diamond pattern but not quite cutting through the fat. Brush the ham with the glaze of your choice (a mixture of runny honey and mustard is good but see our ham glaze recipe links below) and stud the ham with cloves.
2. Bake the ham until golden and caramelised – this will take between 30-40 minutes.
3. It’s best to place the ham on a rack on a tin foil covered baking tray. That way the glaze will fall though onto the tin foil. Use it to baste the ham throughout cooking. To serve the ham:
Leave the ham to rest, lightly covered in a loose tent of tin foil for 20 minutes so the juices come back into the ham. Or leave it to cool completely when it will be easier to slice.
You get more slices of ham from a cold ham than from a hot one because it is easier to slice thinly.