One of the most memorable New Year’s parties I’ve ever attended was held in the 1980s at an old woolshed in the country outside of Gisborne. As the clock turned to midnight a flaming hay bale was dispatched on a flying fox. It whizzed down the wire in a flaming fireball, into an old car sitting a couple of paddocks away. But it didn’t stop there. The car had been laced with petrol, so it was like being on the set of The Bourne Supremacy. Kaboom! The whole thing exploded in the most extraordinary fireball of flying metal and blazing petrol flames.
New Year has never since gone off with quite such a bang. But without having to go to such extremes, it’s always fun to ring in the New Year with friends. Add cold bubbly and a good playlist and you have the formula for a fun night.
Foodwise you really don’t want to go to any bother after all the hard work of Christmas. Often I just bake a ham with a quick glaze, such as my Apricot and Brandy Glazed Ham or my Festive Ham with Cranberry Glaze. My best trick in both these recipes is to warm the ham slightly before you try to remove the skin – it softens the fat a little, making it easier to lift the skin off.
You can serve your glazed ham cold or at room temperature if it's easier, but I like to reheat it just before serving by popping it back into the oven for about 20 minutes at 150˚C. There’s something really indulgent about slices of warm ham – it just melts in your mouth.
Usually I serve my ham supper at about 10pm when people might be starting to flag. I carve a goodly amount of the ham and leave the rest on the serving plate with a carving knife and fork so that more can be cut as needed.
On the side I put a selection of mustards, chutneys and mayonnaise, a bowl of salad greens, lots of soft, fresh buns and a pile of paper napkins. It’s as simple as that. No plates, no mess and lots of happy people licking their fingers and ready to welcome in 2013 with laughter and friendship.
If ham’s not your thing you can take the same tangent with a slow-cooked leg of lamb or pork. I put the meat in a big roasting dish with a little salt and some sprigs of rosemary. Add two glasses of wine or water, cover and cook for 8 hours at 140˚C. To serve, shred the meat and serve with Mexican salsa, sour cream, buns and slaw or salad greens.
Happy New Year!