How to Glaze a Christmas Ham

Hams must feel firm and appear dry

When at the store, “Insert a hatpin deep to the bone, and if there was an ounce of moisture on the pin, look for another.” would say the late Isabella Beaton renowned for her Book of Household Management first published in 1861.

This approach will get you kicked out of the store nowadays, so look for a ham with a firm constitution. “Wobbly hams are no good, because a ham is a cooked cured product so it wants to be firm to the touch. If it’s not firm to the touch, don’t touch it!” says Kate King.

“The colour of the ham should be a rose wine, preferably free of bruising evidence or blemishes. It should have white fat under the cap. If it’s a cut ham you can look for any blemishes. It should look dry and shouldn’t have a lot of liquid in the bag with it. The cap should be a golden brown colour. If the colour looks unusally bright, it probably is! Oh and don’t try and stick your hatpin in to test it, you will get thrown out of the store!”

Avoid high water ham

Ham is a cured product so the more fluid around the bone the shorter it will last. Purply colour around the bone can mean the cure hasn’t gone all the way through, and as a matter of choice I would avoid it. Quality ham should hang while it cures, not sit in brine. Look for NZ ham around the 5–7% water mark with a traditional dry cure. Higher than that, wonder how much pump you’re consuming rather than natural product.

The flavour of the ham should be sweet and the texture should be firm and just moist, not overly dry. You may find a top end ham slightly drier until you get used to the fact that you can actually taste the meat and your mouth isn’t full of saline solution. The secret to a really good ham is as little water as possible left in the ham after the cure.

The Ultimate Ham Glaze

First things first. Get your ham first. Remember 5% less water. Take the ham out of the fridge for at least an hour before you put it in the oven.

Get the biggest dish you can find with a deep side that can accommodate your ham, whether it’s a big one or a small one. Get a grilling rack that fits into the dish or a roasting cradle – they’re good. Put it into the dish. Then you pop your ham into the cradle or onto the rack, it has to be a deep rack because you’re going to pour half a litre of water into the dish.

Pre heat the oven to 160, with the whole ham in there with the cap on for half an hour, then check it. 30 minutes skewer the ham all over leaving the cap on. Return to oven for a further 15 – 20 minutes. If it’s a half ham then it will need less time. Then take ham out of the oven and remove the cap. Orange zest, cloves, cinammon, mustard or even grated ginger finish a ham beautifully. ‘To decorate the top, use slices of orange. This is when you can style it with cloves or put pineapple rings and glace cherries and invite Arthur from the 80’s!’ laughs Kate.


Putting the glaze on

Use the Jude’s Ham Glaze recipe, which comes with every Gourmet Direct ham. Paint it on. then back in the oven, increase temp to 175 degrees and allow your ham to glaze for about 20 minutes. The key to a good glaze is not too much honey or sweetener that will burn. Your recipe should be balanced enough to achieve a nice gloss.

You can eat your ham straight away as they are pre-cooked but go with the glaze to truly enjoy it. Retain some of the glaze, warm through in a pot and serve on the side of the ham for extra flavour.

The perfect glaze needs some sugar component and to give you a caramelised finish. Brown sugar and / or honey make an ideal glaze for this.

When shopping, you’ll see two types of ham.
1. Bone in ham, is well, has the bone left in.
2. Champagne ham is partially boned, leaving the knuckle in.

Shop for the Luxury Ham Pack

Shop for Free Range Whole Ham on the Bone

Shop for Half Ham on the Bone

Gourmet Holiday Shopping ideas – headstart

Get a headstart on holiday shopping this year by addings a little something to make kitchen work easier this holidays, or as a gift for the foodie in your family. These gifts have been chosen buy the Gourmet Direct team as must have items in their kitchen.

1. Sparkling Water from Sodastream

A soda stream machine can sparkle your chilled water as NZ water is fantastic, ‘who wants to buy imported water’ say Napier store manager Pia Russell. Watch the video below of how the SodaStream “Crystal” product works. You can even sparkle your white wine for bubbles! This is the only one in the range that serves direct to glassware (not plastic) so you can pop directly on your dining table afterwards. Buy for $159.99 from your nearest Briscoes or online.


2. Meat Thermometer from iGrill

The black digital grilling thermometer with dual probes means you’ll know exactly the minute your meat is cooked from the outside through to the bone. There’s an iPhone app that will notify you when your meat is ready. This is Ian Christie’s foodie tip. ‘If there’s a meat geek in your family, this is the ultimate gift for them’. Buy for $119.95 from BBQ’s and More here.


3. Gourmet Meat Packs

‘The best gifts are the ones that are experienced’ says Gourmet Direct Marketing Manager Ryan Jennings. ‘I give meat packs to family before Christmas and to business colleagues for their support throughout the year’. Gourmet meat packs can be made to suit your recipient or designed to exactly the right budget you have. ‘It’s an easy way to gift great memories, to people you care about’ says Ryan. Gift Packs are available from Gourmet Direct with great gift packs available for $250 or so.


4. Knife Sharpening

‘Sharp knives are safe knives’ says Lance our Remuera Butcher. You can slice and dice to your heart’s content to create culinary magic without any stress if you have sharp knives. Lance will sharpen your knives for you at our butcher in Remuera. Outside of Auckland, try a Steel Sharpeners. Buy for just $44.99 from Living and Giving or see us at our shop, map below.

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The Art of the Summer BBQ – how to cook steak

The Art of the Summer BBQ has many opinions but underlying all of these, should be a healthy respect for the meat. Kate King – co-owner of Gourmet Direct shares the Art of the Summer BBQ with us and how to cook steak.

Meat Temperature Preparation

“Take the meat out of the fridge well ahead of time. Give yourself at least 30 minutes and consider the depth of the cut. If it’s a thick cut steak, say 200 or 250 grams, the meat will need 30 minutes.” says Kate King.

The GD Test: You can touch the meat without shock to body temperature. When meat hits the skillet, it’s warm, not freezing cold.

Why is this important

“Proteins of meat are sensitive to temperature abuse throughout their lifecycle. At Gourmet Direct we understand the lifecycle journey of muscle to meat. That’s important because once you shock meat with temperature abuse, the proteins tighten and they don’t release again. Although it’s not a bomb disposal exercise, you don’t have to be super careful with modern meats. With spring lamb, Rose Veal, good beef and venison, the proteins in the meat have to be treated with respect. That means no thumping it on the table and tenderising.

BBQ Meat sauces, marinades & rub preparation

“Salt plays quite an important part in enhancing and drawing out good flavours in beef and lamb, but only put it on at the last minute. Salt extracts moistures, so don’t put on 30 mins before. Don’t use salt in marinade, unless you’ve got tough meat. If it’s tough, throw in a couple of kiwifruit too.”

Use good salt, good pepper and good butter. Once you’ve oiled the meat with a good coating of olive oil, add a small quantity of Lewis Road butter on the BBQ straight before the meat. Consider inserting garlic inside if is a big slice of meat. These are just simple things done well.”

The GD Test: You should be able to enjoy the individual flavours on the plate with meat the hero of the dish.

Why is this important

“If you’ve got a good cut, you shouldn’t need to bomb it with a huge amount of sauces and rubs. Good quality ingredients, then common sense to a large degree. Your guest should be able to enjoy the individuals flavours on the plate, rather than making a ‘big meat milkshake’. You don’t have to do that unless you’re an astronaut!”

How to get the best from your BBQ

How hot should the BBQ be

“Overheating and searing way too hot isn’t a good idea for modern cuts of meat. You can get a good seal without smoking out the neighbourhood. Nine times out of ten, the proteins won’t like it too much. Turn your BBQ down and let the proteins settle. If you slow cook, gently sear and get a nice BBQ crust happening. Do what Americans do, let it cook slowly. If you’re going to do slow, do real slow. 2 hours isn’t slow.”

“Be conscious of what you add as marinade. Honey and pomegranate will burn on the BBQ. If you want those flavours, think about how to have them so they won’t be charred or ruin the flavour of the meat.”

The GD Test: The goal here is to create the equivalent of searing steak on a skillet and finishing in the oven.

How long to cook the meat

For ‘rare’ cook 2 minutes per side.

Rest 2–3 minutes, even up to 5 minutes.

Double the numbers for ‘well done’.

Half way in between for medium rare.

“It’s difficult to give advice for BBQ’s because the outside conditions change. On a cold day you’ll get more temperature fluctuation. If you spent 7 grand on a BBQ you can treat it more like an oven. You know your BBQ the best. If you’re using a BBQ recipe, take into consideration where the recipe came from. Look at original of recipe. English medium rare is a lot medium than rare. America is more rare than medium. Where was book published, where are they from. Chances are you need to adapt to kiwi BBQ conditions when looking at temperature conditions. Same with buying US thermometer vs English thermometer. Take this into consideration.

The GD Meat Test: Hold your thumb and forefinger together, then add your second and third fingers. The more give, the rarer the meat.

Why is this important

Rule is if its underdone you can do something about it. Overdone, it’s over. Less is more. Don’t be afraid to add extra resting time, especially if it has bone in it.

How long to rest the meat

The rule is, rest in the oven at 180 degrees for 3 minutes for beef. Every oven is different and you will know your oven best. Make sure you rest the meat after the oven too.


“Source a piece of stone to cook pizza on the BBQ, from the local headstone maker. Take advantage of your headstone maker before you’re dead! A good slab of stone is an essential in a kitchen. It’s also the cheapest place to get marble. Marble great for pastry rolling it, keeps cold. Marble is sensitive to knife cuts so talk to your headstone guy about the best one.

Fresh rosemary, aromatic herbs and stick them on the shelf underneath and that infuses a beautiful flavour.

Poached Beef Eye Fillet – ooh so easy

As promised here is my ooh so easy Poaching recipe for Beef Fillet…Enjoy



1.5 Kg Beef Eye Fillet

2 Tablespoon oil

1 diced carrot, 1 diced onion

1 bayleaf/thyme/marjoram/parsley

Black pepper

1 clove garlic whole

2 Litres hot beef stock


Cooking Instructions

Heat oil in large deep pot and add beef – cook till coloured on all sides and remove.

Add onion and carrot and cook till coloured add herbs pepper and garlic- place meat on top and pour over boiling beef stock to just cover beef.

Let cook 8 minutes remove from stove and rest up to 4 hours covered cut into thin slices.



Mix 2 large garlic cloves crushed with 4 crushed anchovies and 2 tblspns capers chopped, 1 Tbspn Dijon mustard and ½ a cup basil shredded.

Mix in ½ tspn of salt and 2 tspns cracked black pepper. Gradually add ¾ cup of light olive oil whisking and then 2 Tbspns of white wine vinegar

And 2 2 Tbspns lemon juice. Lastly add 2 Tbspns mayo

Whisk thoroughly before using. DO NOT MAKE IN FOOD PROCESSOR.