A gloriously glazed ham is easier than you think – Ginny Grant serves up a winner.

The smell of cooking ham with warming spices is an aroma that instantly means it is Christmas. No matter the size of the ham, it always seems to be the centrepiece. Yet it is often the leftovers that cause the most grief. Personally I find that grazing on slices of leftover ham in between swims, reading books and lounging around is one of the great joys of the holiday season and while more often than not it is served with salads, bread and plenty of hot mustard, sometimes you do want a few more ideas on how to use it.

Great butchers not only provide meats of great provenance but can guide you on the best cuts to use as well as provide suggestions for alternatives that you might not have considered. There is a wealth of knowledge beyond the counter. I heartily suggest that this year you pre-order and purchase your ham from your local butcher.

I had pre-ordered the ham from my favourite local butchers at Grey Lynn Butchery. When I went to collect it on Monday Lucia Rodrigues and her nephew Eddie Rodrigues were apologetic: the smoker and its element had blown and the ham wasn’t ready. Hopefully it would be fixed on Tuesday. Deep breaths and mild panic ensued on my part as the photo shoot was on Wednesday. I thought about a back-up plan, decided that I’d wait until Tuesday; phoned Eddie twice on Tuesday while I got my mise en place sorted. Triumph in the early afternoon as the smoker was fixed and the ham would be ready to pick up at 8am on Wednesday. A tight, close finish and the result was one beautiful, house-brined, mānuka-smoked ham. As you’d expect, it is free-range pork and in this case sourced from Harmony Meats.

The next week while chatting to Lucia, she told me that they now have back-up elements in storage to prevent potential future occurrences. And that really summed up why Lucia and Eddie are such a great team. The quality of their meats and the care with which they use these excellent products is superb; but their service is always outstanding. Of course, they are not alone.


Sicilian muffuletta is usually made with a round of soft bread stuffed with cured meats, cheese and giardiniera-style pickled vegetables with olives. I like to use a whole ciabatta or focaccia, sliced in half horizontally. Take a mix of coarsely chopped olives (or use tapenade), garlic, pickled vegetables such as capsicum, gherkins and capers. Add a splash of red wine vinegar and chopped parsley. Spread half the mix on each half of the bread. Thinly slice some ham and build up in layers, then add some thin slices of provolone, gruyère or other sweet and nutty cheese. Add the top and wrap the loaf in baking paper. Weigh it down for at least 1-2 hours, then bring to room temperature before slicing and eating.

This is often my first thought of a way to use lots of ham. Fry a couple of sliced onions until golden. If you have any cooked potatoes, slice them and put in a bowl with the onions. Otherwise, fry slices of uncooked potato (around 500-600g) in batches in plenty of sunflower oil until cooked but not brown. Put into the bowl with the onions and add slices of ham cut to the same size as the potatoes. Beat 6 eggs with salt and pepper then toss in the potato mix. Put into a frying pan and fry over a low heat for around 6-8 minutes. Put a plate on top of the frypan and flip it over quickly onto the plate, then slide it back into the pan to cook the other side. If the thought of doing this terrifies you and you are using an ovenproof pan, then put under a hot grill for a few minutes to finish cooking. Let it sit for a few minutes, then slide from the pan and slice into pieces. It’s great to serve with chimichurri, salsa verde or tapenade.

Slice thin wedges of watermelon and ham and layer onto a serving platter carpaccio style. Make a dressing of pomegranate molasses, olive oil and lemon juice. Drizzle over the platter, scatter over toasted pinenuts, pomegranate arils and some basil or rocket leaves.

Cut 5mm slices of eggplant (either rounds or lengthwise), salt generously and leave for 30 minutes. Pat dry with a clean tea towel. Smear a little pesto on one piece of eggplant, add sliced ham and mozzarella and top with another piece of eggplant, pressing down. Dust in flour, then dip in an egg mix and cover in panko crumbs. Put into the fridge to set for 30 minutes. Shallow fry (in batches if necessary) for 3-4 minutes on each side until golden. Drain on paper towels and serve with a green salad.

In a large bowl make a dressing of 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar with 3 tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper. Grill slices of eggplant, zucchini and capsicum, wedges of red onion and fennel bulb. Once cooked, toss in the bowl with the dressing. Allow to sit for 20 minutes for the flavours to mellow, then add small, ragged pieces of ham and toss well with some parsley or basil leaves. Put onto a platter and add torn pieces of mozzarella (or use burrata or stracciatella). Serve with slices of grilled bread.