Nigella’s Christmas Feast, Slow-cooked Black Trace Ham

Slow-baked hams are a real revelation. Instead of boiling it and then moving to a hot oven for glazing, I bake the ham slowly in the oven. After glazing, the joints are briefly placed back into a very warm oven. It is extremely tender, cuts easily into thin slices and is easy to carve. There is no shrinkage and there’s no need for large meat joints in boiling water. If the 12-24 hours’ cooking doesn’t suit you, you can cook it for 5 hours in a 180C/160C fan/gas 4 oven instead, before glazing.

It is amazing how intensely intense the juices are that form during cooking. A little is enough to coat the meat. I don’t soak the gammon joint first: this is because I no longer find that the gammon I buy is salty enough to require soaking, but you can, if you or your butcher feel it necessary. Whether you choose a smoked or ‘green’ gammon is a matter of your own taste.

SERVES 10,-12 with leftovers

Joint boneless, 3.5kg gammon, rind

150g of black treacle


Whole cloves, approx. 1 Tbsp

4 tablespoons black treacle

4 tbsp demerara sugar

1 tbsp Dijon mustard

  • Turn the oven on to 250C/230C fan/gas 9. Let your gammon cool to room temperature.
  • Place a foil layer on a large roasting tray. Next, add a wire rack to the top. Take a long piece of foil large enough to wrap the whole ham around and lay it on top. You will have four foil corners ready for wrapping your ham.
  • Spread the gammon evenly on foil. Next, pour the black treacle directly on top of the rind. Don’t worry too much about spreading it over the ham as once it’s in the heat of the oven, it will coat the ham well enough.
  • The sides and ends should be lifted up from the foil. Seal the top of the foil, leaving some space for the gammon. Take the remaining foil piece and make a seal. You want to keep the gammon safe. Finally, tear off another piece of foil and put over the top of the whole parcel, making sure it’s well sealed.
  • Put carefully into the oven and let it cook for 30 minutes, then turn the oven down to 110C/90C fan/gas ¼ and leave for a further 12-24 hours.
  • Next day, remove the gammon and tear open the foil. You can save the liquid to use later on for moistening your carved meat. To remove any fat, carefully lift the gammon onto a plate.
  • Turn the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6 Use a razor blade to cut diamonds in the fat layer. Place lines about 2cm apart.
  • The centre of each diamond should be adorned with a clove. Next, mix the black treacle and demerara sugar in a bowl. Spread the mixture over the ham. You will see some dribbling, so spoon the mixture back onto the gammon. The glaze will then be burned in the oven. Take it out of the oven and place on a cutting board. Allow it to rest for between 10-20 minutes, before cutting into slices.

NOTICE TO STORE Cool leftovers as quickly as possible, then cover (or wrap tightly in foil) and refrigerate within 2 hours of making. Keeps in fridge up to 3 days