Just like puppies, hams aren’t just for Christmas. Don’t leave it until the fairy lights go up to get over to your local butcher. This porky treat should definitely not be confined to the role of once a year festive showstopper.
Gammon is incredibly versatile. There’s so much more you can do than bung a slice of tinned pineapple on top of a steak. I adore the simplicity of a honey and mustard glazed roast ham served with parsley sauce and new potatoes. A roast ham makes the perfect centrepiece for a lazy, boozy weekend lunch with friends and, better still, it won’t leave you needing to extend your overdraft to pay for it.
Aside from being delicious, gammon is also extremely economical. For around £20 you can have enough ham to feed an army – my £20 4 kilo joint is so much better value than those silly little plastic packets that contain a few paltry slices and cost nearly a fiver. You can cook it and freeze half, or even slice it ready for sarnies and freeze it in batches of a few slices. Just let it defrost in the fridge overnight and packed lunches will be ready and raring to go come morning. As well as fabulous pies or a cheeky midweek supper of ham, egg and chips, it also makes fantastically heady stock to use in soups and sauces.
I often glaze mine with maple or marmalade, but this particular joint of gammon was destined for a more aromatic journey. I am a big fan of jerk (chicken, ribs, straight off the spoon…) and love the combination of this sticky, spicy sauce with the salty, oinky and tender gammon.
Don’t be scared of the number of scotch bonnets used in my recipe and please don’t be tempted to swap them for the less fiery bog standard red ones found in all supermarkets. Scotch bonnets have a particular fruitiness that makes them an essential ingredient in any jerk. The chillies are not in the least bit overpowering in this marinade. There is a little zing and tingle on your tongue, but it subsides into the other layers of flavour and balances perfectly with the aromatics, zesty lime and sticky sweetness of the sauce. In fact, being a bit of a chilli head, I couldn’t resist reaching for some extra hot pepper sauce on the side. This went down a storm with my family for lunch and I will certainly be making it again. And often!
Serves 10 – 12
4 kilo smoked gammon joint
A handful of whole black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
1 onion, peeled and quartered
1 stick of celery, cut into 4
1 carrot, cut into rough chunks
For the jerk marinade:
8 cloves of garlic
5 shallots, peeled and roughly chopped
A generous hunk of fresh ginger, peeled
6 - 8 scotch bonnet chillies, deseeded
2 tbsp. allspice berries, ground in a pestle and mortar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground cloves
½ tsp. grated nutmeg
3 bay leaves
A big handful of fresh thyme sprigs, leaves picked
65g dark muscovado sugar
Juice of 3 limes
1 tsp. salt
A generous grinding of black pepper
1 tbsp. rum
Place the gammon in a large saucepan, cover it with cold water and bring to the boil. Discard the water and repeat, adding the stock vegetables. Turn the heat down low and leave to simmer under a cartouche of parchment for about 4 hours.
Leave to cool in the pan before lifting the gammon out of the stock (keep the stock for something else. It freezes very well) and cutting off the skin and excess fat, leaving just a very thin layer of fat over the meat.
Make the marinade by tossing everything into a food processor and blitzing until you have a smooth paste. Score the fat on the gammon and, using latex gloves (or those scotch bonnets will leave your fingers tingling for hours. And not in a good way.), rub the meat with the jerk seasoning. Place the gammon in a dish, pouring over any excess marinade, cover with cling film and leave to marinate for at least 8 hours (24 is best).
Preheat the oven to 180˚C (160˚C fan)/350˚F/Gas Mark 4
Spoon over the marinade that has collected in the dish and pop the meat in oven for 45 minutes, basting every now and then. Increase the temperature to 200˚C (180˚C fan)/400˚F/Gas Mark 6. Spread the thickened marinade over the gammon and place back in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until a nice sticky crust has formed on top of the gammon. Alternatively you can chuck it on the barbecue to finish it off if you like. This is delicious served hot with coleslaw and corn on the cob and the leftovers make for an exciting packed lunch.
I was making zee joke. Although, to be honest, I probably could eat it off the spoon!
22 May 2014
Love jerk too, though not sure if I am brave enough to eat by the spoonful
21 May 2014