Spiced Ham

So, here we are in 2014 and a very happy and healthy New Year to you all and thank you for all your good wishes! This is a dish I made over Christmas, but it was so good I’ve just bought another smoked ham joint to make it again.

Spiced Ham (2)

Perfect hot or cold, great as a main course with chips, mashed potatoes or jackets or in sandwiches or as a sneaky midnight feast….

I was inspired by this recipe I found over on the BBC Good Food site, but of course I changed it a little. Well, life would be dull without a few twists and turns! Big Man and I were back to work today at the house renovation and tonight the limbs are aching. A few days off have turned me into a useless Lady Builder. Or maybe it was the food and alcohol…

Is it just me or does my ham look like a grumpy face?!
Is it just me or does my ham look like a grumpy face?!

Ingredients for a 3.5kg ham joint (but they’re flexible)

  • 3.5kg cured ham or gammon (smoked or unsmoked, the choice is yours)
  • 2 litres of ginger ale (plus you may need extra water to cover the meat)
  • The zest and juice of 2 tangerines and one orange
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 onion
  • 6 cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 10 peppercorns
  • 1 dried chili

For the glaze

  • 3 tbsp molasses or treacle
  • 3 tbsp thick cut marmalade

Put the meat into a large pot and add all the first set of ingredients (and extra water if needed to cover the joint). Bring to a boil, skimming off any scum then simmer, partly covered for about 3 ½ hours. Leave to cool in the stock and use the stock to cook lentils with or make soup –  it’s amazing!

Spiced Ham (6)

If you want to glaze your ham (you don’t have to but it’s worth doing), warm the molasses and marmalade together in a small saucepan until melted.  Peel the skin off you ham if it has skin on and score the skin. Pour the glaze over your ham (which you will need to put into a heavy oven tray lined with greaseproof paper to save ruining your oven tray) and bake at about 220 degrees C for 30-40 minutes until the glaze starts to brown. Baste it every 10 minutes while it is cooking.

Serve hot or cold – it will keep for about 10 days (in theory) but I bet you won’t be able to resist scoffing the lot before then.

And if you have any leftovers…well, I’ll tell you what to do with them another day.

Up the Mountain in the Development Kitchen – Home Cured Pork

Ok, so I don´t really have a development kitchen and most of the actual experimentation went on in a small blue plastic bucket in my storage shed, but I have successfully cured (in brine) a piece of pork for the first time.

Even tastier than the first time I made it

You may recall a while back I showed you a recipe for Boiled Gammon. At the time I talked about the fact that it is impossible to buy it here in Andalucía but that I wanted to figure out how to make it at home.

Well, I turned to my old pal Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and he had some great information in his River Cottage Cookbook.

I started with a small piece of loin of pork that weighed 800g as I didn´t wanted to waste a large piece of meat if it all went horribly wrong.  I decided to play around a little with the flavours, amounts are flexible.

Ingredients

  • Pork (your choice of weight and cut)

For the brine

  • Water
  • Dark beer – 2 bottles
  • 1 kg Salt
  • Treacle or molasses – I used half a cup of Miel de Caña (or you could dissolve brown sugar in with the salt and beer)
  • Crushed black peppercorns and cloves (I used about a tablespoon full of each)

I boiled the salt with the beer and spices until it was dissolved then stirred in the molasses and added enough water to ensure the liquid would cover the meat.

The pork was put into a new (and then sterilised) bucket and covered with the brine once it had cooled completely. I had to put a plate with a weight on it to keep it from floating out of the water.  This was then left in a cool dark place for 3 days.  The recipe suggests this as a minimum period per kilo with a four day maximum period per kilo. You should note that your meat will not be a pretty pink colour like the brined hams bought in shops unless you use something like saltpeter or a chemical additive to keep the colour.  I didn´t do this, as I prefer not to.  For me, it´s all about keeping it natural and tasting great.

Pork after brining

When the required number of days have passed, drain the meat (discard the brine, it should not be reused).  Bring it to the boil in a pot of fresh water, drain it again and then cook.  I cooked it in the same way as previously, this time adding a couple of dried chillis to the stock and some celery.

When I posted the previous recipe my best friend called me to ask what the heck I had been doing serving the gammon with parsley sauce when it should have been onion sauce.  I stand corrected.

This time I made a delicious onion sauce by gently frying a medium onion in a little olive oil until it was soft and transparent. Then I added 2 tablespoons of flour and cooked it slightly then stirred in a cup of the meat cooking stock and half a cup of milk.  Add salt if it needs it (mine didn´t) and pepper and serve alongside the meat and vegetables.

Any leftovers can be made into a soup, but more of that another day…I´m off back to the Development Kitchen. We keep the wine in the shed.

Oatmeal Bread

Delicious and Different!

I enjoy making bread, and it´s always good to come across new recipes.  When I saw JamieAnne´s recipe for Oatmeal Bread over on her blog, A Dash of Domestic, I had to give it a go.

I followed her recipe almost exactly apart from the following little changes

  • I used one tablespoon of olive oil instead of butter
  • My oats needed cooking (albeit only for a few minutes) so I put all the water allowance (for the oats and the yeast) in with the oats and cooked them up for about 3 minutes before proceeding with the recipe
  • I used a sachet of easy blend yeast

Finally, I made the dough in the morning.  It was lovely to work with and became very smooth and silky quite quickly.  It was a hot day so I dusted it with flour, slashed the top then covered it with a tea towel and left it in a sheltered but shady spot in the garden for two hours then baked.

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It even looked beautiful as it was rising!  We enjoyed the slightly sweet taste which comes from the molasses and thought it worked well with salty cheese and also with paté and the last of my home made fig jam from last year.

Thanks JamieAnne, will be making this one again!

Chicken, Chive & Sweetcorn Fritters

Don´t Burn Yourself!

Having spent the day rushing around and generally being a busy bee, I wanted something quick and easy for a light supper.  Leftovers from a chargrilled chicken dish made the night before included most of a chicken breast, so I decided to make some fritters and serve them with a big mixed salad.

Here in Andalucía they often make fritters with salt cod (which has been soaked and desalted) and serve them with Molasses (or sugar cane honey as it´s called here) drizzled over. When I was first introduced to this concept, I wasn´t sure it was going to be for me.  The idea of sweet and salty mixed together seemed strange, but then I thought about how in the UK we often eat meats with fruit sauces (pork with apple sauce, turkey with cranberry) and realised that it wasn´t such a weird idea.  I´m so glad I did give it a go as it´s a fantastic combination and works really well with these fritters. 

Beautiful Jar of Miel de Caña

If you just can´t face the thought of Molasses though, a sweet chilli dipping sauce or mayonnaise also tastes great with these little fritters.

Ingredients used (which are approximate) made 14 fritters.

  • 1 x 150g sweetcorn which I blended to make creamed corn (we can´t get it here)
  • Half a large or one small chicken breast, grilled and then finely chopped
  • 4 heaped tablespoons of self raising (or cake) flour
  • About half the empty can full of milk
  • 2 tablespoons of finely chopped chives
  • 1 egg
  • Seasoning
  • Oil for frying (I used olive oil)

In a bowl add the flour and egg to the sweetcorn and mix well. Gradually add the milk until you get a paste the consistency of a thick porridge. You may not use all the milk, or you may need a little more, it will depend on your flour.  Add the chicken and chives and season to taste.

Heat your oil in a deep frying pan and when ready, drop heaped tablespoons of the mixture in, flattening them out slightly with the back of the spoon. 

Each side will take about a minute to cook, remove, drain and serve.  And if you´re feeling Spanish, you can call them Tortillitas de Pollo, Cebollina y Maiz. Olé!