Christmas Eve - Beecroft, Sydney
I prefer glazed ham to turkey, any time of the year. At Christmas time in Australia, the hams consumed at barbies, family gatherings , out decks of houses and in offices usually come from the leg of a porker, often only nine months old. Beechwood is the preferred source of smoking the ham and the outcome we see at our dining tables takes around a week. Pelvic and thigh bones are removed but with the hock intact for the easiest type of ham to carve. Removing the rind is part of the process before serving the ham slices. A pillow case can be a good substitute for a proper ham bag to help keep cooked ham in a freezer and it usually lasts for three weeks after part so fit have been carved. Everyone looks for flavour, texture, colour and character in ham. Below, the pear and rocket salad mix prepared by Ely and Ray at their Christmas Eve do this year.
Lighting the pudding has been an age old practice originating from Northern Europe and the version of the sweet stuff we all had at Ely and Ray's this time had a lightness in bite and a very agreeable taste. Served with custard, it provides a closing to a hearty meal, that in the Aussie tradition, included summery prawns and wine, amongst other items. Apart from the expected plain flour, brown sugar, bicarbonate of soda, chopped butter, eggs, bread crumbs, ground cinnamon and mixed spice, pudding is rich because it is added with rum and a variety of dried fruits like chopped dates, pitted prunes, almonds and ground nutmeg. And yes, don' t forget the pinch of salt and finely grated lemon zest!