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Orange, maple syrup and thyme glaze for ham

The Christmas ham is already cooked, so you’re glazing it to add jammy sticky flavour, caramelise the fat into a toffee-like Christmas crackling, and turn the whole thing into a clove-studded signature dish. 

Ham glaze generally contains maple syrup, brown sugar or honey, simply because they’re completely delicious with the saltiness of the ham. Salt and sweet are the ultimate culinary power couple – their combination sets off a biological pleasure response in our brain.

The cooking time here is fairly loose, depending on your oven – bake until it reaches a brain-tingling level of golden caramelisation.

Ingredients

200ml orange juice
2 sprigs fresh thyme
100g soft brown sugar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
3 tablespoons (¼ cup) Dijon mustard
Grated zest of 1 orange
Around 30 whole cloves

Method 

Put the orange juice, thyme sprigs and sugar in a small-ish saucepan. Bring to the boil, stirring, then immediately reduce the heat and simmer rapidly for a few minutes until thickening and syrupy. Remove the thyme sprigs. Stir in the maple syrup, Dijon mustard and orange zest and remove from the heat.

Preheat the oven to 160°C. Remove the outer skin from your ham, being careful to leave a good layer of fat. Score the fat into diamonds with a sharp knife (don’t cut all the way through). Stud each diamond with a whole clove.

Brush the ham generously with glaze and bake for around 1 hour, basting with more glaze every 15 minutes, until golden and sticky and pretty irresistible.