Many people celebrate Christmas by serving meats that are ancestral. The fact that Kiwis of British origin still serve hot roasted meats and veg on a humid summer day is testament to that.
Turkey became popular in England after King Henry V111 introduced it to his Christmas table. Before the 16th century the wealthy English feasted on peacock or swan, while a pig’s head was the main course for everyone else.
Turkey was celebrated in Charles Dickens’s 1843 classic A Christmas Carol, in which Scrooge sends a surprise Christmas turkey to his downtrodden employee Bob Cratchit. It became a very popular dish to serve on special occasions.
Pork has been a feature since ancient times. The early Romans ate boar during Saturnalia in honour of the god Adonis who was killed by a boar. Coincidentally, Adonis’ birthday was December 25. These days ham is the centrepiece of countless festive tables worldwide.
Most hams today come cooked and vacuum-packed and should be stored in the refrigerator. Once the packaging is removed, cover loosely with aluminium foil, or place in a ham bag or cover with a damp, clean towel.
HAM WITH GOCHUJANG GLAZE
Gochujang is a fermented paste prepared from chillies, glutinous rice and soy beans available from Asian food stores and some supermarkets. As a guide, an 8kg ham will serve 40 people for a buffet meal or 20 for dinner.
Glaze: 1/2 cup gochujang
1/4 cup date or maple syrup
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/2 cup orange juice
Ham: 8kg semi-boned New Zealand ham
3 tablespoons sesame seeds, lightly toasted
Preheat the oven to 160°C if the ham is to be served hot. Or 180°C if it is to be served cold.
Whisk the glaze ingredients together in a small saucepan. Simmer for 2 minutes.
Cut the skin around the ham’s shank end, about 8cm down from the top. Starting from the thicker end of the ham, carefully run your clean fingers under the skin to remove it. Leave the shank end intact. You should finish with a smooth layer of fat.
With the tip of a small, sharp knife, score the fat across the ham. Turn the ham and score again at right angles. Place in a roasting pan. Add 1 cup water. Brush with the glaze.
If the ham is to be served hot, cook at 160°C for about 10 minutes per 500 grams. If it is to be served cold, cook at 180°C for about 45 minutes. Brush with more glaze 3 or 4 times during both methods of cooking,
FESTIVE CHICKEN TERRINE
To char-grill the capsicum, brush with oil and place on a baking paper lined roasting pan. Grill on all sides until blackened. Cover and stand until cool. Remove the skin.
4-5 small bay leaves
6-7 rashers streaky bacon
750g skinned and boned chicken breast
1 shallot, diced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
salt and pepper to taste
2 egg whites
1 small red chargrilled capsicum, diced
Preheat the oven to 160°C.
Brush a 21cm x 12cm x 7cm loaf pan with olive oil. Place the bay leaves along the base.
Roll the bacon rashers to make them thinner. Line the sides and base of the loaf pan evenly with the bacon leaving the ends to overhang the side rims.
Cut the chicken into cubes. Place in a food processor. Mix until coarsely ground. Add the shallot, thyme, seasonings and egg whites. Mix well. Stir the capsicums in by hand.
Spoon into the bacon-lined loaf pan and pat down evenly. Cover with the overhanging bacon then cover tightly with foil.
Bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and continue cooking for about 20 minutes. The internal temperature should be 68°C. Cover and stand until cool. Refrigerate for up to 2 days. Serves 6-8.
PUMPKIN-CRUSTED LAMB RACK
Purchase about 250g of pumpkin to make 1 cup of thick mash.
2 lamb racks, about 8-10 cutlets each
salt and pepper to taste
4 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup thick, mashed pumpkin
3/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs
2 teaspoons each: chopped thyme, rosemary
Preheat the oven to 190°C.
Remove any excess fat from the lamb. Season with salt and pepper.
Heat a teaspoon of the oil in a non-stick pan. Sear the lamb racks on all sides. Place in the oven for about 15 minutes depending on the size of the racks. The meat should be about three-quarters cooked. Remove the racks, cover with foil and rest for 10-20 minutes.
Spread the pumpkin on the back and top of the lamb. Combine the breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, thyme, rosemary and the remaining olive oil. Gently pat over the pumpkin. Return to the oven to brown, about 5 minutes. Serves 4.