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This recipe is classed as easy

Rating 3.45 / 5 (1125 votes)

Prep time:
15 min, plus soaking if necessary
Cook time:
2 hrs 40 min

Brought to you by Nigella Lawson, this traditional recipe from the Deep South, involves simmering a juicy ham joint in sweet spiky cola

See more from Nigella Bites

More Christmas roasts


1. I find now that mild-cure gammon doesn't need soaking. If you know that you're dealing with a salty piece, then put it in a pan covered with cold water, bring to the boil then tip into a colander in the sink and start from here; otherwise, put the gammon in a pan, skin side down if it fits like that, add the onion then pour over the cola.

2. Bring to the boil, reduce to a good simmer, put the lid on, though not tightly, and cook for just under 2 1/2 hours. If your joint is larger or smaller work out timing by reckoning on an hour a kilo altogether, remembering that it's going to get a quick blast in the oven later. But do take into account that if the gammon's been in the fridge right up to the moment you cook it, you will have to give a good 15 or so minutes' extra so that the interior is properly cooked.

3. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 240C/gas 9.

4. When the ham's had its time (and ham it is now it's cooked, though it's true that Americans call it ham from its uncooked state), take it out of the pan but do not throw away the cooking liquid. Let the ham cool a little for ease of handling. (Indeed, you can let it cool completely then finish off the cooking at some later stage if you want).

5. Remove skin, leaving a thin layer of fat. Score the fat with a sharp knife to make fairly large diamond shapes, and stud each diamond with a clove. Then carefully spread the treacle over the bark-budded skin taking care not to dislodge the cloves. Then gently pat the mustard and sugar onto the sticky fat.

6. Cook, in a foil lined roasting tin for approximately 10 minutes or till the glaze is burnished and bubbly.

7. Should you want to do the braising stage in advance and then let the ham cool, clove and glaze it and give it 30-40 minutes, from room temperature, at 180C/gas 4, turning up the heat towards the end if you think it needs it.


For the glaze

  • 1 handfuls cloves
  • 1 tbsp black treacle
  • 2 tsp English mustard powder
  • 2 tbsp demerara sugar

Tips and suggestions

Honey and mustard roast gammon
This recipe is from How to Eat, with some rejigging (just because it's not in my nature to leave completely alone) and I don't apologise for reproducing, or rather recasting, it because I simply cannot urge you to try this strongly enough. The first time I made it, it was, to be frank, really just out of amused interest. I'd heard, and read, about this culinary tradition from the deep South, but wasn't expecting it, in all honesty, to be any good. The truth is it's magnificent, and makes converts of anyone who eats it. But, if you think about it, it's not surprising it should work: the sweet, spiky drink just infuses it with spirit of barbecue. I have to force myself to cook ham any other way now; though often I don't bother with the glaze but just leave it for longer in the bubbling cola instead.

And the salty, sweet liquor it leaves behind in the pot after it's cooked makes an instant base for the most fabulous black bean soup.

But just one thing before we start: don't even consider using diet cola; it's full-fat or nothing.

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Latest Comment


has anyone tried to do this with diet cola, i am diabetic

kathB20832 kathB20832  Posted 22 Nov 2014 1:03 PM

brilliant will be making this again and again

ronnieH61746 ronnieH61746  Posted 24 Dec 2013 1:51 PM

Janet I must admit that I threw the cola away. We found it much too sweet to use as a base for anything and 'full fat' cola is SO bad for you. That said, the ham looks and tastes fantastic so throwing away 2 litres of cola seems a small price to pay!

suwinter suwinter  Posted 28 Dec 2012 11:06 AM

I have just cooked the ham in coca cola, it looks and tastes great, can anyone tell me if you can make a gravy with the liquid the ham was cooked in and if so what do I do?

janetB2580 janetB2580 Posted 23 Dec 2012 7:37 PM

Sounds brilliant - exactly what I'll do this x-mas! Thanks Nigella

HildegardN77561 HildegardN77561 Posted 23 Oct 2012 8:52 AM


davidT42916 davidT42916 Posted 21 Oct 2012 2:52 AM

i find the glaze a little too much so i use equal parts of english mustard, honey and brown sugar. approx 1 - 2 tbsp of each. try it as an alternative.

Dan Daly Dan Daly Posted 25 Sep 2012 9:33 AM

OMG - Cooker this today - its true will never cook it any other way!. Going to have it with pineapple and chips later. If my other half dont stop eating it though there wont be any left. Honestly - try it really tasty......................

julieB54792 julieB54792 Posted 15 Aug 2012 5:10 PM

How much Coca-Cola do you need to use?

EzetteO19597 EzetteO19597 Posted 20 Dec 2011 7:02 PM

Tried it before, delicious!!

SANDIDOG SANDIDOG Posted 09 Dec 2011 5:04 PM

Great recipe!
I put the leftover liquor in my boston beans recipe yum

bobL72397 bobL72397 Posted 25 Jun 2011 1:56 PM

AprilW36194 AprilW36194 Posted 05 Jun 2011 6:58 PM

A firm family favourite. You will never cook ham any other way! The left over liqour can be used for her black bean soup recipe !

JoannaM21522 JoannaM21522 Posted 18 May 2011 8:15 PM

Hi all. Half way through this recipe. The ham is ready for the oven later tonight but my query is, what did Nigella do with the "saved" cooking liquid? I have so much left over it seems a waste to chuck it away. i tested a small amount with some onion gravy granules and it tastes amazing but just far too sweet to serve with the ham. Anyone know the "official" reason for saving the liquid or any other ideas on what it can be used for? Many thanks! Chris

Christophe24335 Christophe24335 Posted 19 Feb 2011 3:47 PM

I use honey brown sugar & peach syrup for the glaze instead of the mustard. with the cloves of coarse.

keithB50663 keithB50663 Posted 24 Dec 2010 3:28 PM

my boyfriend and I made this the other day and it was amazing!!! instead of throwing away the cooking liquid I mixed the hot liquid with gravy granules instaed of using water and it made a lovely sweet and aromatic gravy, hope this is helpful x

buddha26 buddha26 Posted 21 Dec 2010 4:02 AM


darrellP385 darrellP385 Posted 22 Jul 2010 5:24 PM

i really like this recipe however i find that the ham always ends up too dry, i usually buy 3lb of gammmon and cook it for appox 1hr 15mins, what am i doing wrong?????
Any advice????

CES1981 CES1981 Posted 20 Jan 2010 4:37 PM

I have done this version of ham in coke for a few yrs love it best ever ..

vickieN83765 vickieN83765 Posted 23 Dec 2009 2:46 PM

I think they mean the stuff that the joint was cooked in.. I'd like to know what to do with it to as Nigella mentions using it for a Black Bean soup but she doesn't have a recipe listed for it (In here anyway!)

JenniferT70281 JenniferT70281 Posted 08 Jan 2009 3:53 PM

If you mean the stuff you haven't yet cooked with - I suggest mixing with a little JD and ice. Washes the gammon down a treat!

JustinR21756 JustinR21756 Posted 22 Dec 2008 6:28 PM

What do you do with the left over cola?

elskus elskus Posted 31 Oct 2008 5:55 PM