Christmas is all about large family and friendship gatherings. It is the coming together of groups to celebrate the end of another long, stressful, and hopefully good year and no doubt thankful for the long holidays.

Entertaining a crowd means a lot of food preparations but its usually Christmas lunch that gets the most attention.

Today, we are making a South African classic which is a Christmas Gammon glazed with brandy and coke.

Here’s hoping you enjoy a bit of South African Christmas.   


Serves: 8 – 10


For the gammon:

One large gammon, with or without bone (however, do note that there is a difference in cooking times between cooking with or without the bone).

330ml can/bottle of ginger ale

330ml can/bottle of beer

2 whole star anise

3 bay leaves

3 whole cloves

1 large onion, peeled and quartered

Thumb length quill of cinnamon

¼ grated nutmeg

5ml whole black peppercorns



For the glaze:

330ml can of Coke

4 tsp Dijon mustard

1 tsp hot English mustard powder

100ml brown sugar

1 tsp instant coffee

15ml squeezed lemon juice

45ml brandy


Cooking method:

Add the gammon, ginger ale, beer, star anise, bay leaves, cloves, onion, cinnamon, nutmeg and peppercorns into a large, deep pot.

Ginger ale2


Star Anise

Pour in the water so that it covers the gammon.


Bring to to boil then reduce the heat so that the gammon cooks at a simmer. Only cover one side of the pot. If you are cooking a boneless gammon, cook for about 30 – 40 minutes but if the gammon has is boned then 40 – 55 minutes depending on the kilogram of the gammon as the package says. Top up with water if necessary.

When done, put off the gas and leave to cool. It is usually suggested to cook the gammon a day before using it. Leave the gammon in the liquid. You’ll need it for later.

Preheat the oven to 220 – 240 degrees C. Pour the coke into a wok (or if you do not have one, a shallow pan will suffice). Turn on the heat until bubbly and the liquid has reduced by half.

Add the dijon mustard

dijon mustard

and the English mustard

English mustard

Next add the coffee and sugar and increase the heat whilst stirring for 5 – 7 minutes until the mix is slightly syrupy and the liquid has reduced even more. Take off the heat and stir in the lemon juice and brandy.

squeezed lemon juice


Brandy (1)

Take out the gammon from the pan with its liquid, pat it down and place it in a roasting pan. remove any rind off the gammon and open a score the shape of the diamond at the top of the gammon. Fill it with the cloves.


Pour the glaze all around the gammon and put the pan into the heated oven. Cook for 30 minutes, basting every 5 – 7 minutes (use the glaze at the bottom of the pan and pour the liquid over the gammon. Be careful as the glaze is quick to burn).


Once the gammon has a  mahogany looking crust and the glaze at the bottom of the pan is little, bring it out of the oven. Use a paint brush to use the rest of the glaze to baste the gammon on the top and the sides.

Glazed gammon

Set aside for about ten minutes before serving with boiled potatoes and salad (if serving cold, leave in the fridge for about four hours. Don’t cover it.)

finished product 2

Merry Christmas everyone!!!


Recipe by The South African


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Michael Alvin

Michael Alvin

Creative Writer
Michael Alvin is a lawyer and a UNESCO certified journalist. At Afro Tourism, he blends creativity with his training in telling moving stories about his personal experience on his various trips across Africa.
Michael Alvin
Michael Alvin
Michael Alvin

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