The smell of sugar or honey as it caramelises on the slippery fat of roast gammon is a treat, but the fat slices of pink ham, carved warm or cold, are unbeatable. A joint of gammon is useful at this time of year because it can be used to make endless sandwiches for visiting friends and family. Of course it’s also a great centrepiece for a lunch or dinner when you might be opening a bottle specially to drink with it. Ham goes with red or white, depending on what you’re eating with it and your mood of course. For a big lunch, and if it’s being served with green vegetables, I like to open a bottle of dry riesling from Germany, Alsace or Australia. The citrus flavours in this white grape emphasise the juiciness of the ham. Other white options include blowsy viognier, dry chenin blanc or a blend using gros manseng found in the south-west corner of France. At dinner it often feels better to open a red. Avoid tannin and go for young, juicy, fruity wines such as grenache or a bright carignan or cariñena (same grape, from France and Spain respectively).



Martinfort Carignan 2013 IGP Pays d’Hérault, France, 12.5% (£7.40, Tanners)

This juicy carignan is not just great with ham, it’s a top red to have knocking around the kitchen. Buy it.

Taste the Difference Awatere Valley Riesling 2013 New Zealand, 11.5% (£8.50, Sainsbury’s)

Choose this lime-scented, riesling for a lighter lunchtime option.

Estevez Chilean Pinot Noir 2013 Chile, 13% (£4.99, Aldi)

Sweetly ripe, rounded, soft and fruity, this easygoing pinot noir from Chile is brilliant with ham and roasted root vegetables.

Tesco finest* Swartland Chenin Blanc 2013, 14% (£6.99, Tesco)

Also available as a bag in box that keeps for six weeks, this deliciously fruity white is from South Africa’s funkiest wine region.

Roast gammon recipe

gammon joint (about 2kg)

onion 1 small, peeled

bay leaf 1

carrot 1 medium, peeled

leek 1, washed and halved

cloves, a handful

honey 4 tbsp

step 1

Put the ham joint in a large saucepan full of cold water. Bring to the boil. Empty out the water, wash the ham and pan, refill with cold water. Add the peeled onion, bay leaf, carrot and halved leek, bring to the boil and simmer for 25 minutes for every 450g, or 20 minutes for every 450g for a very big (3kg and over) joint. Skim off any scum that has gathered on the surface of the water, use a slotted spoon to lift out the vegetables and ham. Discard the vegetables and save the cooking water for stock or soup. Heat the oven to 220C/fan 200C/gas 7 and let it heat up while the ham cools to a little. Use a sharp knife to slice off the very top layer of skin, then score the fat in a diamond pattern and push a clove into the centre of each diamond. Set the ham on a double piece of foil in a roasting tin and brush the honey across the fat and sides. Bake for about 20-30 minutes or until the top is crisp and golden.


This feature was published in December 2014

Photographs: Sam Stowell

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