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Creative Jerk Ham Recipe

Jamie: "There are so many rituals around Christmas, and while I love tradition, I also think it's nice to add an extra element to the menu to kick things up a bit. This is the long method, but you can also buy a lovely cooked ham from your butcher and skip the poaching step. A few slices of this, with a baked potato, a bit of winter coleslaw or salad and some mango chutney would make an incredible Boxing Day lunch!"


For poaching

  • 1 x 5kg leg of ham
  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 red onion, peeled and cut into wedges
  • 6 Scotch bonnet chillies, halved
  • 2 teaspoons whole cloves
  • 1 stick of celery, trimmed and roughly chopped
  • 1 small leek, washed and roughly chopped
  • 3 bay leaves
  • ½ bunch thyme
  • 1 cinnamon stick

For the jerk marinade

  • 6 fresh bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons allspice
  • 1 tablespoon cloves
  • 2 tablespoons ground nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 red onions, peeled and quartered
  • 8 Scotch bonnet chillies, stalks removed
  • 250ml dark rum
  • 250ml malt vinegar
  • Small bunch fresh thyme, leaves picked

For the ham glaze

  • ¾ jar good-quality, fine-cut marmalade
  • 125ml golden rum


1. Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4. Put the ham in a large roasting pan with all the poaching ingredients. Add water until it comes halfway up the side of the pan. Cover the ham with tinfoil (making a tent over the ham to allow the steam to circulate). Bake for 2 hours or until pink and cooked through remove from the oven and let it cool for 30 minutes, remaining covered.

2. While your ham poaches you can prepare the jerk marinade. Add the bay and your dry spices to a food processor with your garlic cloves. Give it a good whiz so it forms a paste, then throw in your onions and chillies and whiz for a few more minutes. The chillies have a fiery, almost apricoty, sweetness to them and will start making the seasoning really hot. Pour in the rum and malt vinegar and keep whizzing everything around while you add the thyme. Once you've got a nice loose consistency your jerk marinade is ready.

3. Once your ham has finished poaching, transfer it to a roasting tray and let it cool down a bit. While still warm, put your hand underneath the skin and gently pull it away from the meat, leaving the bit of the fat underneath attached. Then, with a sharp knife, score the ham by lightly making diagonal cuts across the leg.

4. Spoon the jerk marinade over the pork and use the back of the spoon to smear it all over the ham and into the scored fat. If you want to use your hands then make sure you use rubber gloves, because this marinade is hot! If you like, you can cover the meat in cling film and refrigerate it overnight but, as we've already poached this in some of the jerk seasonings, you can also cook the ham straight away.

5. Pour a small glass of water into the bottom of your roasting tray and put the ham in your preheated oven at 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4 for 2 hours. Try to baste it every half hour so it gets nice and dark. Once it comes out of the oven, scrape off a bit of marinade with a spatula. Spoon about ¾ of a jar of marmalade over the ham and pour a good swig of dark rum on top. Smear this mixture all over and let it drip down the sides of the ham. Spoon the juices off the bottom of the tray and back over the ham. Put it back into the oven, at the same temperature for another 30 minutes, basting every 5 to 7 minutes. This is all about giving it a bit of love to create a shine and sweetness. Build up that crust and when it's lovely and dark... it's ready!

© Jamie Oliver

Photography © David Loftus