Bord Bia’s Tips for Cooking the Perfect Ham this Christmas

With Christmas only around the corner, Bord Bia has put together some tips for choosing and cooking the perfect Christmas ham. Bord Bia Quality Mark Christmas Research has shown that traditional Turkey and Ham is still the number one choice with 84% of Irish people eating it on Christmas day. According to Kantar, Irish shoppers spend an additional €7million on bacon and ham in December compared to any other month of the year*.


Bord Bia’s tips for cooking the perfect Christmas Ham include:

Bord Bia Christmas Ham with Marmalade and Ginger Glaze

1.    Choose the right sized ham e.g. a 4kg fillet of ham will feed 10 people and allows a little extra if your family like to help themselves to more on Christmas night!

2.    Make sure your ham is of the best quality. Choose ham with the Bord Bia Quality Mark so you know where it comes from and that it has been produced to Bord Bia’s highest quality standards.

3.    Leave the skin on the ham when simmering. It can easily be removed after cooking and adds to the flavour.

4.    For extra flavour add some vegetables and a bay leaf to the cooking water.

5.    Adding cider, apple juice or orange peel to the cooking water intensifies the flavours and gives the meat some extra zing!

6.    Do not throw the cooking water out. It can be used to keep the ham moist when roasting in the oven.

7.    A ham glaze adds a sweet flavour to the ham by providing a contrast to its natural saltiness. It also adds a nice colour and texture to the finished product.

Ella Gleeson, Actor Lochlann O’Mearainn and Broadcaster Ella McSweeney preparing Christmas dinner in the Bord Bia kitchen

8.    Freeze any remaining cooking water in portions as stock for making soups and sauces.

Ham Glaze
For best results, once cooked, remove the skin of the ham with a sharp knife and gently score the fat into diamonds. For a simple glaze mix 1 tablespoon of mustard with 1 tablespoon of brown sugar and spread over the fat before roasting in the oven for 30 minutes. For a honey glaze, add 3 tablespoons of clear honey and the grated rind of an orange to this mixture.  An alternative marmalade and ginger glaze is included in the recipe below.


If there are any…. here are some delicious ideas:

  • ·         Slice the ham and serve with wholegrain mustard and herb dressing in a sandwich
  • ·         Chop up the ham and add to frittatas or omelettes
  • ·         Combine the chopped ham with a tin of tomatoes, some garlic and basil for a tasty pasta sauce

Teresa Brophy, Consumer & Trade Marketing Manager Ireland, Bord Bia said “At Christmas, we pride ourselves in providing the best for our family and that includes creating delicious meals with trusted ingredients. By choosing food with the Bord Bia Quality Mark this Christmas, you can trust your food has been produced to the highest quality standards and you know where it comes from”.


The recipe for Bord Bia’s Ham with Marmalade and Ginger Glaze is included below. For a range of Christmas recipe ideas and to learn more about the Bord Bia Quality Mark visit



Ham with Marmalade and Ginger Glaze
Serves 10 

  • 4kg fillet of ham/gammon joint
  • 1-2 carrots, chopped
  • 1-2 sticks of celery, chopped
  • 1 onion, halved
  • 1 tablesp. peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 litre cider or apple juice
  • 1 orange thickly sliced


  • 3 tablesp. fine cut marmalade
  • ½ tablesp. ground ginger
  • Whole cloves for studding the ham

Place the ham, vegetables, peppercorns, bay leaf, cider or apple juice and orange pieces in a large saucepan then cover with cold water. Place a lid on the saucepan, bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer for approximately 2 hours. When the ham is cooked the skin will peel off easily.

Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 6, 200°C (400°F). Transfer the ham to a roasting tin just large enough to hold it. Using a sharp knife remove the skin. Taking care not to cut into the flesh, score the fat into diamonds. Mix the marmalade and ginger together in a small bowl. Warm in the microwave for 10 seconds, then brush the mixture over the joint. Stud each diamond with a clove. Pour three ladlefuls of the reserved poaching liquid around the ham to keep it moist and bake for about 30 minutes, basting every 10 minutes, until golden brown. Strain the rest of the poaching liquid and freeze. This can be used in soups or sauces.

Remove the ham from the oven and leave to rest in a warm place for at least 15 minutes. Slice thickly and serve as part of your Christmas dinner.

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