It wouldn’t be Christmas without a ham for my family. It really has become one of those traditions that if you didn’t do one year, the family would look at you all bereft and most likely sulk the rest of the day away!
Yes, we have a turkey but I’ve been making a ham on Christmas Eve for years now and it helps to eek out the festive feast a bit further (although I must say, no one goes hungry in our house at Christmas!) and it provides delicious cold cuts for throw together meals of leftovers for a couple of days thereafter.
Those being some of the best meals of the year – a slice of ham, a nugget of leftover stuffing, if you’re lucky a few pigs in blankets plus odds and sods of cheese and chutneys galore. Heaven!
Having always made my hams in a giant pot on the stove every year, I am thrilled at both how much quicker and most importantly, how much better my Instant Pot Pineapple & Chilli Ham comes out when pressure cooked.
It was yet another textural revelation the first time I cooked a cured joint of gammon in the Instant Pot, just like when I abandoned cooking my cheesecakes in a water bath and did them in the pressure cooker.
Yes, a 2.2kg joint can be fully cooked in just 70 minutes but the very best thing about pressure cooking is how meltingly tender meat comes out, and here, how juicy the ham is. Honestly, my really-needs-a-good-sharpening-chef-knife glided through it like a hot knife through butter.
Flavour wise, I was thinking of Jamaican jerk seasoning, but a far less ferocious version when I dreamt up this ham. Actually, I was first thinking of ham and pineapple, that British pub classic that is little found nowadays.
In particular, I was daydreaming about the days when Step Mum had a lovely, homely pub with great service and real food about 20 doors down from the family home. They used to serve gammon steaks with a tiny pot of pineapple relish or chutney that me and Step Mum just adored.
Sadly, the management changed and the pub went downhill fast thereafter and so, no more walking down the road for tea when we’re far too tired to cook. My new take on this fondly thought of meal is cooking my gammon in pineapple juice with a few other savoury bits and pieces like fresh red chillies and some lightly cracked allspice for a nod and a wink to jerk flavourings.
Like I said, this ham is fast enough to make right at the last minute when it comes to Christmas but do bear in mind that to cook it thoroughly, it must be brought out of the fridge to come to room temperature before cooking. I give it two hours on the draining board. If you don’t, you can’t guarantee it will be done in the middle.
A meat thermometer should read 75˚C when inserted into the centre if you want to be sure it is done and cooked safely (it’s funny how food safety seems to be at the fore of our minds come Christmas, more than any time of the year, isn’t it?!).
When it comes to both bacon and gammon, for me, there is only one way to buy them – smoked. This does mean they are saltier than the unsmoked version but there is little point in unsmoked pork to me and Hungry Hubby.
It serves to tenderise as well as flavour the meat and when cooked in its fruity bath then glazed with a bitter-sweet but full on mix of treacle, ground ginger and chelly (aka chilli jam), the saltiness is softened down and you are left with richly flavoured meat.
There is nothing like a big fat doorstop sandwich made with real bread, spread generously on one side with chelly and the other pile high with coleslaw with a thickly carved slice or two of home cooked ham.
If you have only ever bought it in a packet in the supermarket, you’ll be delighted with the economy of making it yourself at home and of course, the taste is without comparison. And I promise, chilli-shy Hungry Hubby doesn’t even remark on this ham being hot – he does, however, make rude noises when eating it, it’s so good!
- 2 to 2.2 kg smoked gammon
- 1 rib of celery
- 2 fresh red chillies halved lengthways
- 4 cloves of garlic crushed in their skins lightly
- 1 tbsp allspice berries or 1 tsp ground allspice, lightly crushed
- 1 small onion quartered
- 1.5 l pineapple juice
- 1/2 tsp ground allspice
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tbsp treacle
- 2 tbsp "chelly" aka chilli jam
It's crucial to bring the gammon to room temperature before cooking - this means taking it out of the fridge 2 hours before cooking it. This is to insure it is fully cooked right through to the centre.
When ready to cook, remove any plastic packaging, like the plastic "sleeves" some supermarkets use on their hams, and place in the Instant Pot then tuck in all the remaining ingredients for cooking the ham and pour over the pineapple juice. Remember never to fill more than 3/4 full when cooking in your IP.
Place the lid on and cook for 15 mins per 500g plus 10 minutes (the joint in the photos took 70 minutes). Allow a Natural Pressure Release to happen.
Use meat lifters or large forks to remove the ham and discard the stock it has cooked in. If there is much skin or fat on your ham, remove it now with a sharp knife.
Preheat the oven to 220˚C and mix together the glaze ingredients.
Line an ovenproof dish big enough to sit the ham upright nice and snuggly with foil (it makes cleaning it so much easier!) and pop the ham in. Pour over the glaze ensuring an even coverage then cook for 10-20 minutes until bubbling and catching in places. Be careful the first time you do it and keep an eye on it in case your oven runs hot.
Allow to cool for at least 30 minutes to make slicing easier (otherwise it be tear and you wont get nice long slices). Wrap leftovers in foil and store in the fridge for 2d days maximum.
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