Salt-Baked Ham with Orange & Thyme
6 kg table salt
1 leg of ham (about 5 kg)
1 orange, sliced
bunch of thyme
6 oranges, halved and grilled
chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
Japanese white charcoal
Soft metal wire or trussing string
Large metal dish, preferably cast iron
1: Heat your barbecue for about 30 minutes with the lid down to get the coals nice and hot. I used Japanese white charcoal, but you can use other varieties – ask your local supplier what is best for cooking.
Pour the salt into a large bowl, add enough water to make it just wet to touch – you want it to feel like you're patting wet sand over the ham. Slice open the leg by the bone, add the orange and thyme, then use a metal wire to tie it together, piercing the skin; this will infuse these beautiful flavours into the meat as it slowly cooks away.
Place half the salt on the bottom of a metal dish and put the stuffed ham on top. Pour over the remaining salt and pat until all the meat is covered, and no air can escape.
Put the salty ham on the hot coals, and place some of the coals on top (with tongs or a shovel). Leave to cook for about 2 hours. During this time the salt will go hard, steaming the ham on the inside. Keep an eye on the fire. You don’t want a flame, as it will just burn the bottom and top and won’t allow the ham to cook evenly. The temperature should be sitting around 200C.
While this is cooking, prepare all the accompaniments: the grape and mint sauce, creamed potatoes and witlof salad.
When the salt has gone completely hard and the ham is smelling amazing, it is ready. Allow it to rest away from the heat for 1–11/2 hours. It will continue to cook during this time, and the slow resting will make the ham tender and juicy. Crack the salt, remove the meat and let it rest for another 10 minutes
2: While the ham is resting, place the orange halves on a barbecue grill plate, cut-side down, and cook until nicely softened and caramelised. Slice the ham and arrange on a bed of parsley. Serve with the grape and mint sauce and sides, with the grilled orange halves for squeezing over.
Serve the sliced ham on a bed of chopped up parsley leaves. I also grilled 6 oranges cut in halves which can be squeezed on top of the ham when you serve it. Along with the Grapes & Mint Sauce.