Cherry Coke ham
This recipe for Cherry Coke ham was first made popular by the celebrity chef Nigella Lawson, although here we have left out the cloves (the family doesn’t like them) and we have increased the quantity of Cherry Coke by a third. Nigella deserves credit for spotting the potential of adding Coca-Cola Cherry to a traditional cherry-glaze ham, and we have followed her shortcut of using cherry jam rather than whole cherries. The drink itself was actually invented by diners and drugstore soda fountains long before the Coca-Cola commercialised it in 1985.
- 5-6lbs / about 2.5kg mild cure ham, off the bone
- 8 x 12-ounce cans of Cherry Coke
- 1 onion
- 3-4 tablespoons of cherry jam
- 1 teaspoon of Spanish sweet smoked paprika (pimenton dulce)
- ½ teaspoon of red wine vinegar
First, you need to get rid of some of the saltiness of the uncooked ham. You have a choice. (1) Put the ham in a saucepan and cover with cold water and leave it to soak overnight. Or (2) put the ham in a saucepan and cover with water but put it on the heat and bring to the boil, then remove from the heat, and drain. Whichever method you use, remove the ham from the water and put it in a colander so you can wash and rinse it under a tap of running water.
Now, put the ham into a saucepan that is just large enough to take it with a tight fit. If this is the saucepan you have just used, make sure you wash and rinse it clean.
Cut the onion in half and add it to the pan.
Then, add the Cherry Coke. If it doesn’t cover the ham then top up with some water until it does. This is why you need to use a snuggly fitting saucepan.
Put the saucepan on the heat and bring to the boil. Then, turn down the heat, partially cover the pan with a lid, and allow it to simmer for around 2 to 2¼ hours.
Before the ham is cooked start preparing the glaze.
Put the cherry jam, the paprika, and the red wine vinegar into a saucepan and whisk over a high heat, bringing it to the boil. Allow the mixture to continue boiling until it reduces down to a thickish syrup that will coat the ham without just running of it.
Shortly before the ham is cooked, pre-heat the oven to 230°C / 450°F (210°C / 410°F).
When the ham is ready, remove it immediately from the cooking liquid and put it on a board. Discard the used Cherry Coke unless you have immediate need for it, such as cooking another ham. It won’t keep.
Use a sharp knife to strip off the rind and a little of the fat if it is very thick.
Then, use the knife to cut a diamond pattern in the remaining fat cover, with lines about ¾ inch or 2cm apart.
Now, line a roasting tin with aluminium foil (the glaze will burn as it drips off during the roasting). Place the ham on the foil-lined tin and carefully pout the glaze over the ham making sure everything is coated.
Put the tin with the ham in the oven for about 15 minutes until the glazed fat has developed a polished look.
Remove from the oven and allow the ham to rest for about 10 minutes before you carve it.