Julskinka – Swedish Christmas Ham
While a ham is the main meat on a Swedish Christmas smörgåsbord, most Swedes buy it pre-cooked. In fact, the Swedish julbord doesn’t have that many cooking components to it, but the sheer volume of different dishes means that just as much planning is required as with any other Yuletide dinner.
It isn’t hard to cook your own ham- the trick is only in getting a lightly salted and unsmoked gammon to begin with, and also making sure you use a meat thermometer so it doesn’t go dry. Traditionally, Swedish ham is boiled. Some recipes cook it in a pot of water in the oven, others on the hob/stovetop, while other recipes roast it. I prefer boiled and slow-simmered ham to make sure it stays moist. Cook this the day before and add the topping before serving. Swedish hams is served cold, so this is fine (and can even improve the final result).
2.5 kg/5.5 lb. lightly salted dry-cured unsmoked gammon, with some fat on
1 onion, quartered
10 black peppercorns
2-3 bay leaves
1 egg yolk
3 heaped tablespoons grainy Swedish mustard
3 heaped tablespoons breadcrumbs
Serves 8-10 as part of a Christmas Julbord
Place the ham in a large saucepan, cover with water, ad the onion, peppercorns and bay leaves and bring to the boil. Skim off any fat that rises to the top of the water.
Reduce to a very slow simmer and cover with a lid. The cooking time depends on the thickness and size of the meat. A rule of thumb is 45-50 minutes per 1 kg/2 lb 4oz., but when the temperature in the middle reaches 72°C (162°F), it is done. If you have a longer, thinner piece, it will be ready faster than a very fat, rounder piece. Always use your common sense and a meat thermometer.
Remove the ham from the water and leave to cool. I usually cover it with clingfilm/plastic wrap to prevent the outside from going dry.
To prepare for the topping before serving, preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) Gas 6. Trim off the fat from the top of the cooked ham and tidy it up a bit. Mix the ingredients for the mustard topping with a fork and simply spread over the top of the ham (use your hands). Put the ham into the preheated oven to allow the topping to bake 0 you may need to pop it under a hot grill/broiler at the end, too. The topping needs to set around the ham to give a mustard crust.
Serve whole on the Christmas table and slice as needed. Leftover ham makes an amazing carbonara sauce for pasta, or make ham and Västerbottensost cheese rye bread toasties.
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