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Not into turkey at Christmas? Cook this Buckfast baked ham with pomegranate and mint instead

Anything but turkey this year? Here is a suggestion for an alternative to the traditional bird

For some people, turkey is completely overshadowed on the Christmas table by the accompanying ham. Perhaps this year, with budgets stretched, the ham can take centre stage instead of being relegated to a supporting role.

Enrobed in a shiny caramelised glaze, and perhaps studded with cloves, a baked ham can be every bit as impressive as a turkey, which my late mother always insisted was “just a big chicken”.

Sprouts, being mini cabbages, are the perfect accompaniment, and roast potatoes trump mash every day. No need to forgo the stuffing either, a sage and onion bread stuffing with some dried cranberries scattered through it would be an appropriate festive accompaniment.

The multi-award-winning Heritage Cure Ham from James Whelan Butchers is a thing of beauty, 6.3-7.5kg of tender, moist pink meat with a hint of hickory smoke. At €55 it is not cheap, but will easily serve up to 16 adults, with plenty of leftovers. If your Christmas budget is a bit tighter, Aldi has a 4kg bone-in smoked ham for just €16.99.


If the ham is to be the focus of your lunch or dinner on December 25th, you’ll want to bring a bit of excitement to it, with perhaps a new way of cooking it. Step forward baker and cookbook author Graham Herterich, whose recipe for Buckfast baked ham with pomegranate and mint is perfect for this time of year, as well as being sure to be a topic of conversation around the table.

In his cook book, Bake, Herterich explains the background to the recipe. “This recipe is dedicated to and inspired by Jess Murphy. Jess is the amazing chef at Kai in Galway who supports and encourages so many people – and is renowned for her many creative uses of Buckfast. She continues to inspire me daily, not only to be a better baker, but to be the kind of person who never stops learning and reaching for new stars.”

Here is the recipe, and a few others from the Irish Times archive, to inspire you to make the most of your ham, if you’re having one, this Christmas.

Recipe: Buckfast baked ham with pomegranate and mint

Recipe: Mark Moriarty’s roast ham with soy, honey and orange glaze

Recipe: Christmas ham casserole with winter greens and cider

Recipe: Chicken (or turkey) and ham filo pies

Recipe: Hay smoked ham