Spiced Gammon Cooked in Cider


Ever since my daughter had a cider-cooked gammon on Christmas in England with her now-husband, I’ve been chomping at the bit to make it. It sounds so British, but also so autumnal. First I had to figure out the American equivalent of gammon.

Thank goodness I have British blogger friends, who worked tirelessly with my predicament, and it wasn’t easy. Linda Duffin, of the blog Mrs. Portly’s Kitchen, finally figured out, with some help, that it is an uncooked Virginia ham. Below are Linda by her infamous Aga, and her gorgeous kitchen where she teaches cookery classes.

I chose an uncooked country Virginia Felts brand ham.

Then I found this, from the blog The Nosey Chef:

The etymology of ham is truly confusing, and it is not helped by trans-Atlantic variations in use. Put simply, a hind leg of a pig is a leg of pork. If that leg is brined, then it becomes gammon. If you cook a gammon, you end up with ham. But if the gammon is served hot from the oven and cut thickly as a main protein in a meal, then it is still called gammon. Let it go cold and slice it thinly, then we are back in ham territory. In the US, the uncooked meat is called a ham, and the word ‘gammon’ never arises. So, in the UK, you can ‘make’ a ham, but in the US, you can only really buy one.

The recipe I used is from Sainsbury’s Magazine online. Sainsbury’s is a large supermarket chain in the UK.

The recipe uses dry cider, which I also had to research, and discovered is what I know of as hard cider, which fortunately is now widely available in the US. My favorite is Strongbow.

You know the joke… “I love cooking with wine. And sometimes I even put some in the food! Well, that’s also me with Strongbow! Cheers!

Spiced Gammon Cooked in Cider

For the gammon:
1 – 2 kg boneless gammon joint (about 4.5 pounds)
1 onion, peeled, quartered
2 whole star anise
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
3 bay leaves
1 liter dry cider (about 34 ounces)

For the glaze:
Handful of cloves
100 g of dark brown sugar (3.5 ounces)
50 g honey (3 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

Scrub the gammon to remove the moldy parts.

Place the gammon in a large pan along with the other ingredients, and top with cold water to cover the gammon by an inch.

Bring to a boil, skimming off and discarding any impurities as they rise to the surface. Reduce the heat and simmer gently for 1 hour 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave to cool in the liquid for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 220 degrees C (425 degrees F). Remove the gammon from the stock and transfer to a board. Remove the skin; score the fat into diamonds and stud the fat with the cloves.

Mix together the sugar, honey, mustard and spices. Transfer the gammon to a foil-lined tin and brush the fat with half of the glaze. Since I think I trimmed off a little too much fat, I added a few dabs of butter.

Roast in the over for 20 minutes, spooning the remaining glaze over the top halfway through.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 20 minutes if serving warm. Slice thinly into the fattest part of the leg, slicing cross-wise.

Cool completely to eat cold. Duh.

I served the gammon with roasted potatoes and my Festive Cumberland sauce.

It was a lovely combination.

So, was it worth it? I enjoyed the process, but I didn’t really taste apple flavor, although the glaze is especially good.

Maybe next time I’ll try another recipe.

54 thoughts on “Spiced Gammon Cooked in Cider

  1. So, I guess I haven’t ventured over for a while. Love the new look, Mimi. This is a perfect fall dish, maybe even good enough to swap in for the traditional turkey! Cheers on the cider, too!

    • Thanks, I had to change it when someone told me my old theme didn’t format to iPhones. It’s been a good pandemic project. Honestly, this is only the 2nd time I’ve cooked a ham from scratch, so to speak, and I think I’m done with it. Plus, now I know why they sell spiralized hams! They’re so hard to cut!!! Cheers!

  2. Looks wonderful, Mimi. This is such a tradition in UK and we always had a ham/gammon at Christmas with my parents. I used to cook them as a meal anytime years ago – boiled first just in water and spices, then glazed as you’ve done – and it’s great cold too.

    • I still have some ham leftover, even after making some potted ham, so that’s a plus. The flavor was great, and I love ham in general. It was a fun experience!

  3. My family loves ham and this “gammon” is a perfect example! I can remember when we forgot to get a pig we ordered from friends “cured” – very different and a little work. Now I take the easy route and stick with a honey baked ham which everyone loves…

    • Well, I will from now on as well. I’ve done this once before, and obviously forgot the work that goes into it! Plus, it’s extremely difficult to slice up ham. My husband decided that it’s why there are spiralized hams!

  4. Mimi – thanks for the lesson on gammon and ham. I’ve never known what gammon was but the word seemed some derivation of ham. Anyway, I’m a huge fan of hard ciders, but only the “dry” varieties. My favorite is Blackthorn dry! I think I’ve tried Strongbow as well, but there’s a place in my neighborhood that has Blacthorn dry on tap, and I get a pint every time I go there! I serve ham over the holidays, so this comes in handy! Thanks!

    • You are so lucky! My daughter used to live close to a cider pub when she lived on Orchard street in NYC. I really wanted to go, but…it never happened. The ham and gammon thing is really complicated.

  5. That Strongbow cider is the very one I used in my cider bread and onion soup and here is labelled dry. Your gammon looks amazing. I cheat and buy ready cooked gammon and just glaze it. Maybe this year I will go the whole hog (no pun intended).

    • Nah, I wouldn’t. It’s a pretty long process. I’ve done it twice now, and I think I’m done. It was really hard to slice as well. I love Strongbow!

  6. Mimi, I’ve had to relearn about every cut of meat since moving here so I understand the confusion with the gammon. We enjoy gammon here usually on the 23rd of December (little Christmas eve). But, I’ve never cooked it in this way, but will this year. Here you can find both oven roasted fresh cured ham or boiled, depending on where you come from (North or South of Sweden). We love hard cider and Strongbow is on the approved list. Thanks for the inspiration…

    • You are so welcome! It’s kind of a process, which I’ve only done once before, and probably won’t again. But the nomenclature is so confusing. I still can’t remember the details! Your little Christmas Eve sounds lovely.

  7. That is a beautiful platter of gammon, Mimi. Now it has me asking all sorts of questions, too… does gammon have the same etymological root as gamba? Your photos of this shoot are really stunning. Not generally a ham fan, but this one has me researching where to get one. (The mold was a huge surprise, though… is that normal?)

    • No, it was good, a lot of work but I expected that, since I’ve made one “from scratch” before. But it was good, and we had lots of extra ham, which was great.

  8. On Christmas Day here at my mother in law’s she does both Roast Turkey and also a Gammon. I might see if I can get her to change the Gammon up a bit this year by suggesting this recipe and by cooking the Gammon in cider. That is of course if we can actually visit relatives this Christmas. As the moment with the lockdown here it’s all up in the air…….. :-(

    • I know. It’s a bit crazy. I have a turkey coming for Thanksgiving (organic, free range, that I can’t get locally) and a prime rib for New Year’s. But it might just be my husband and myself!

  9. Interesting! I’ve never heard of Gammon, so I was particularly intrigued by this post. It’s all about as clear as mud now – haha! (You did a great job explaining it…it’s just confusing!) And they really do love dry cider over there in UK. I remember stepping into a grocery store years ago and seeing Strongbow in 2 liter plastic bottles – similar to how we might see Coke. Either way, this glaze does sound fantastic!

    • Clear as mud – definitely. I’m still unclear on all of the nomenclature. But I probably don’t need to cook a ham from scratch, after doing it twice. A lot of work, when there are great sources for good hams out there now.

    • The overall flavors were really nice. Have you ever played with boiled cider? It’s another product I found on amazon, and I continue to buy it, especially around this time of year. It’s just reduced cider, and great to put in gravies.

  10. Very interesting, never thought of this great idea. First time I heard of cooking it in cider but I get it, that will impart so much flavour into that ham. Apples and pork go real well together, this is a winner.

  11. That’s a lot of work but the dish does look delicious and comforting. I brine most poultry, haven’t tried it with pork. Too bad the apple cider flavour didn’t make it to the end, it sure sounded great.

    • I’ve only brined turkey and pork loin. They both turned out so tender, but sometimes I forget about brining! I have a product I’ve used for years, that of course I originally found on Amazon, called boiled cider. I’m sure it’s just reduced cider, but it’s a real time saver. I add it to gravies sometimes at Thanksgiving, and I should have included some in the glaze. Although I was trying to respect this actual recipe.

  12. I love country ham! And have prepared it at least a dozen times. Not lately, though — it’s a lot of work, and we can’t begin to eat all that meat these days. Calvin Trillin once wrote about someone who received a country ham (as a gift, I believe) and when they opened up the wrapping saw all the mold — and assumed it had gone bad and threw it away! Didn’t realize gammon was actually country ham — the whole terminology is somewhat confusing to me. Fun post — thanks.

    • Thank you. The terminology is still confusing to me. I just wanted to make a gammon cause it sounds so British! I’ve only made one once, and I think this will be the last time. There are so many good online sources for good hams these days.

    • The ham turned out wonderfully. A lot of work, but fun as well. The Cumberland sauce came out really well, but there aren’t too many cranberry sauces that I don’t love!

  13. Boy, does that “gammon” look fabulous! I live within spitting distance of Virginia so this is a local dish for us. And as you probably know, I’m a big fan of Linda’s. And have a serious case of kitchen envy whenever I see photos of hers. ;-)

  14. Thank you so much for your time and effort to post this recipe. I ordered a 10lb (4.5kg) uncooked ham and was going to use your recipe but was curious how the cook times would change for the larger ham.

    • Wow! I don’t think I have a pot or oven that could accommodate such a large ham! I just googled and read “24-28 minutes per pound of boneless ham” in a 325 degree oven. But who knows?!

  15. First, thank you for your response.

    I was surprised myself when I ordered and only had that choice for size. I may cut it in half before I prepare.

    Two follow-ups. If I prepared the ham as suggested in your recipe a day early, would it reheat well with the same flavors and juiciness? If so, what oven temp and time frame would you recommend to reheat it?

    The other follow up is in regard to a comment you made earlier in this thread saying that you have done this a couple times and didn’t think you would do this again with an uncooked ham because it was a lot of work. I was curious, if you were not going to do this recipe with an uncooked ham, would you just use a cured ham, apply the glaze and reheat in the oven? If you have done this, is it comparable to the process described in your recipe?

    I really do appreciate your time and knowledge. I am responsible for my first Thanksgiving meal and don’t want to screw it up.

    • It would indeed reheat well, but I’d make sure and wrap it well, so it doesn’t dry out. In the future, yes, I will just buy a cured ham from a well known source and follow their directions. Cooking ham from scratch is very involved. Not hard, just time consuming. The most important thing to me is to soak the ham first to remove as much salt as possible, then brine it, then remove the salt once again. There’s nothing much worse than salty ham, after all of that work.

      • Once again, thank you for your time!

        I apologize for being daft, but I just wanted to make sure. Using a cured ham, I would use the hams heating instructions with your glaze recipe and forgo the soaking of the ham in the cider?

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