21 Dec 2018

Pavarotti's ham – a recipe by Julie Biuso

From Jesse Mulligan, 1–4pm, 3:08 pm on 21 December 2018

When the great opera singer Luciano Pavarotti first visited New Zealand in 2004, Julie Biuso was invited to cook for him. She made a Kiwi-style glazed ham which he pronounced to be 'magnifique'.

Luciano Pavarotti performs in Beirut City stadium in 1999

Luciano Pavarotti performs in Beirut City stadium in 1999 Photo: RAMZI HAIDAR / AFP

She talks us through the recipe.

Recipe: Pavarotti’s Ham

A grand dining table was being set for Pavorotti's meal when he made a surprise visit to the kitchen, Julie says.

"In he walks, his eyes go straight to the ham and he goes 'my goodness, what is this?' and his eyes just smile, they're just really really beautiful.

"We're talking Italian and I can see he wants me to cut a piece of ham… so I slice a piece of ham and he takes it off the carving gork and eats it and goes 'This is magnifique, I want the recipe'.

"Then his entourage come in and everybody's having ham stuffed in bread rolls."

Julie's glaze – which she's been making for 20 years because she hasn't found one she likes better – became the glaze for 'Pavorotti's ham'.

Most hams you buy are pre-cooked on the bone so all you need to do is remove the skin and glaze it, which can be done up to a couple of days in advance.

While a full ham is heavy and can be quite daunting but looks terrific and the meat stays a little more moist.

Julie Biuso

Julie Biuso Photo: Supplied

Recipe notes:

Pavarotti's Ham by Julie Biuso

Pavarotti's Ham by Julie Biuso Photo: Julie Biuso

To remove the fat, slip your hand between the skin and the fat.

Don't take off the fat. You want it there for flavour, moisture and to create the golden surface.

The ham in Julie's picture had been prescored by the butcher into squares, but Julie prefers scoring with diamonds – "a bit more exciting on the eye."

When making the glaze, take the rind off the Seville orange or tangelo with a citrus peeler if you have one or a potato peeler is fine.

If your honey is set, loosen it in a bowl of warm water or the microwave.

Oranges can burn but that flavour contrasts well with the sweetness.

'You sort of want to let a little bit of that burning happen.'

"The cloves will flavour it but they'll also hold your little squares of fat in the ham."

Two things that really don't mix are glazing ham and drinking alcohol, Julie warns - "The ham is so heavy, it's so hot."

Glazing it ahead of time and serving it at room temperature will also free your oven up.

After glazing, Julie wraps the ham in a layer of baking paper or nonstick foil (which it won't stick to) then a layer of alumnium foil.

"It's quite a lot of foil being used but man it saves you on a big wash-up scene."

A cooked ham comes in handy through early January - and is great for sandwiches and salads - Julie says.

Put it into a chilly bin with ice the first day after its glazed.

"If you look after the harm and keep it well chilled and only take it out when you're going to slice it you're good to go for over two weeks."

Julie tells Jesse Mulligan she doesn't always go with ham on Christmas day.

This year she'll be serving ricotta-stuffed chicken breasts and some good roasties with some seafood to start.

Recipe: Ricotta-stuffed Chicken Breasts with Verjuice

Niki Bezzant's recipe for the perfect roast potato was one of the most read features on RNZ last year.

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