Bilby Bites - the food blog from Bilby Marketing

Festive Christmas Ham

I have been cooking this ham for nearly 10 years now and I still love it - I guess if you keep something special and only do it once a year you don't lose the magic. The glaze melts down into the Marsala and apricot sauce and the whole thing tastes incredible. I have to say a big thank you to Antony Worrall Thompson for this as it is a Christmas staple that I just can't do without.


  • 1 unsmoked gammon ham joint
  • 2 oranges
  • 2 lemons
  • 1 leek
  • 1 stick celery
  • 3 twigs of thyme
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 5 cloves
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • Whole cloves
  • 450g soft dark brown sugar
  • 100g cornmeal/polenta flour
  • 2 tbsp dry mustard
  • 2 tbsp ground black pepper
  • 6-8 tbsp bourbon
  • 600ml apple juice
  • 450g dried apricots
  • 300ml Madeira/Marsala wine


  • To poach, cover the ham with water in a large pot and add all the ingredients in the poaching list. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes per pound. Leave to cool in the poaching liquid.
  • The next step is to bake the ham, so cut away the skin, rind and most of the fat leaving around 1 cm of fat behind. Score the remaining fat in a diamond pattern. Insert a clove at every diamond point on top of the ham.
  • Mix together the brown sugar, cornmeal, mustard, black pepper and moisten with bourbon until it holds together. Place the cool, drained ham in a baking tray and spread the sugar mixture over the top covering the cloves completely.
  • Place the apricots around the base of the ham and pour in the apple juice and Madeira or Marsala. Bake in the oven at 180°C for 10 minutes per pound. Baste every 10-15 minutes. The ham can be served either hot or cold with the apricots.

Bilby Boost

  • I prefer Marsala over Madeira personally as it gives an extra sweetness that works brilliantly with the slightly salty ham.
  • This has been a Christmas favourite of mine for many years and it never fails to be something seriously special. The smell of the poaching ham permeates the kitchen and makes me feel instantly festive.