Patrick Powell's perfect Christmas ham

Mhairi Mann

9 December 2020

Allegra is the restaurant, bar and terrace on the seventh floor of The Stratford in East London. Here, head chef Patrick Powell shares his recipe for the perfect glazed Christmas ham

“The most important thing when cooking and glazing a ham is to buy the best quality ham you can afford, do not boil it too hard and do not over complicate the glaze. I like to add a spice rub to the fat before glazing – this is far more efficient than studding it with cloves. Put water on the cooking tray while glazing, this will help keep the ham moist and will make the tray a lot easier to clean."

9 December 2020 | Mhairi Mann


A 5-6kg ham will feed eight people comfortably with plenty left over for sandwiches

1 boneless ham leg (5-6kg)
5g whole cloves
5g black peppercorns
5g allspice berries
5g cinnamon sticks
200ml honey
100ml maple syrup
100g Dijon mustard
50g brown sugar


  • Place the ham in a large pot of cold water and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and refresh with cold water. This helps remove excess salt.
  • Bring the ham back to a gentle simmer and cook for 4 hours for a 6kg ham or, if you have a meat thermometer, until the internal temperature is 63° Do not boil it too hard as this will make the meat tough. Remove the pot from the heat and allow to cool in the cooking liquid. Keep this liquid as it makes a fantastic base for soups or casseroles.
  • While the ham is cooking, place the whole spices in a pan and gently toast them. Blitz to a powder and set aside.
  • Preheat the oven to 170°
  • Place the mustard, honey, sugar and maple syrup in a pan and bring to the boil. Stir and set aside.
  • Place the ham on wire rack on a tray. Carefully cut the skin off being careful not to remove any of the fat, a sharp knife is essential for this.
  • Score the ham fat in a criss-cross pattern, leaving around 2cm between the lines.
  • Rub the spice mixture in the ham fat, making sure you massage it into all the lines. Bake in your preheated oven for 10 minutes. This adds a fantastic layer of flavour to the ham and helps open up the fat to take on more flavour from the glaze.
  • Pour a quarter of the glaze over the ham and return to the oven for 10 minutes. Keep doing this every 10 minutes, applying the glaze with a pastry brush until you have achieved a dark golden colour all over the ham and all of the glaze is used up. Be careful not to go too dark as the glaze will be bitter and the ham will dry out.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool. I think a glazed ham is best eaten at room temperature.

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