Things I Tried: Cooking Gammon

I’m no chef, I can get by in the kitchen if it isn’t anything hugely complicated but I’m a bit bored of the same-old same-old, so when I was offered a 2kg piece of gammon at work I thought it would be a great chance to try my hand at cooking something a little bigger. I will admit to being a bit taken aback at the size of it when it arrived, I didn’t really have a reference point for weights of meat apart from the packs of bacon we produce at work.

I wasn’t brave enough to follow Christine’s recent example of adding lots of ingredients and things to the pot and then glazing the gammon, so here is what I did instead. It had been cured a particular way at work and I didn’t want to overwhelm it with other flavours – perhaps once I’ve proven to myself I can cook a gammon I might try something more adventurous next time! I found a few recipes online and decided to follow the most basic parts of the instructions. Photos were taken on the run with my phone so may be a touch blurry.

my gammon
2kg of lovely gammon

I sat it in a saucepan full of water for several hours to remove the excess salt, a step I wasn’t expecting and delayed me by a day. Not to worry, anything that helps! I kept turning it over as it wasn’t completely immersed in the water – this pan is the biggest-depth container I own in the kitchen other than the washing up bowl, which I didn’t want to use! It must have been a good four or five hours at least, and plenty of salt came out so I was happy it was working. After that I removed it and kept it in the fridge until I returned home from work the next evening, I’d started late so there wasn’t time to cook it that evening.

On Tuesday evening I was eager to get started. I boiled it with fresh water briefly, before changing the water, adding two slices of apple and leaving to simmer for a couple of hours. They say 30 minutes per 500g (or 20 mins per 450g). I wasn’t going to use any ingredients at all, but as I was jumping around Google to find the cooking time I saw someone had added an apple in with their other ingredients, and I thought that sounded like a good idea try on its own.

Again I had to turn it around every 40 minutes or so, to make sure every side was cooked. It was cooking for 2 hours 20 minutes all told. This was a little more than planned but at the 2 hour point it didn’t look ready at all, every recipe said to look out for the outside hardening and that didn’t happen for a while.

Boil for 2 Hours

Then I transferred it to the oven for just over half an hour, took it out and let it rest for ten minutes to let the juices flow out. Some recipes said to keep the stock to make soup, I could’ve done that had I been prepared but instead I poured it over the gammon in the roasting tin and transferred across the apple to soak in the juice for the oven cooking time, a complete guess in the hope it would add more flavour. Meanwhile the potatoes and peas were cooking in another pan.

 

30 minutes in the oven

Finally, the moment of truth!

Finished!

Ta-da!

Okay so the plate isn’t the most inspring, just a bit of gammon with some little potatos and peas. It is fair to say Christine’s looks far more impressive and is reflective of the extra work put in, but I’m still very pleased that I managed to cook gammon that hasn’t been pre-sliced, which I would just whack in the oven for half an hour.

Verdict

It isn’t as tender and ‘falling off the bone’ as the recipes described but that’s fine, this was my first try. I think I probably soaked it too long as it isn’t very salty, and boiled it too long as it is quite hard and dry! And the apple did give it an ‘interesting’ taste which left me disappointed (although I do like the jelly stuff it left behind). However, all that said it is still very tasty and I’m enjoying it very much with my evening meals and in my lunchtime sandwiches!

I think on the whole the fact it is still edible at all after I’ve been near it can be considered a success, I was genuinely scared I was going to ruin it and have to throw it all away, yet actually it looks like the whole thing is useable. I am pleased to cook my first large piece of meat, it has given me the confidence to try other things in the kitchen. Janna has given me an idea to cut up some cubes of gammon and use in a pasta bake so I’ll be trying that soon – probably not with a blog post.

Things I Tried: Whisky & Coke

I’ve thought for a while that I might start a series of posts about different foods and drinks I’ve tried, mostly about new lines or special editions but also things I just have never got around to having before. This totally looks like I’m stealing an idea from Christine but I genuinely have been curious about new food and drink for many years, if I’m honest if anything I put this off because she started her series. I used to read the now-defunct Nice Cup of Tea and a Sit Down.com to get biscuit suggestions. I tried the latest crisps or chocolate bars or soft drinks when they came out. When Kit-Kat came out with the special editions I was made-up, my top chocolate snack in Mint, Orange, White chocolate and more – brilliant! Then the gold Wispa, ahh.

But since the latest post from Christine is about whisky and Coke I thought I’d kick off my own series with a reply to it.

My boss bought me a bottle of Bell’s Scotch Whisky for Christmas last year, he’s really nice in that he buys us presents. I was a little disappointed because the previous year I had wine and I know I like wine, I didn’t really like whisky. I don’t really like many spirits having habitually been a beer/wine/cider drinker. I’d only tried it once but wasn’t a fan, so this sat on my shelf for months. Then I tried it. I put it in a small glass with some Coke.

Everyone is right when they say it is an ‘acquired’ taste – I don’t recommend trying it neat at first as I did, ugh, mix it! It is probably fair to say Bell’s is at the lower-middle end of the market (not the worst, not the best), but that’s absolutely fine because you don’t want to reject the pricey stuff. I started with a small amount, which was quite sweet but essentially Coke with a funny aftertaste. Over time I added more as I got used to it. Now I have a reasonable amount!

The trick is to find the right balance between Coke and whisky – it can be hard to find it. Go too far and it isn’t very nice in both aftertaste and alcohol content. The taste does grow on you over time though. If you add a bit more it is the ideal slow drink for a cold late evening, a winter warmer to get the inside temperature going, or a post drinking session wind-down as you’re not hammering it down, at least, you’re not supposed to…

whisky
A fair helping of Bell's in a small glass
whisky
...with Coke

I’m growing fond of it. I’ll be buying different brands over time to see which I prefer. Shame it is a bit expensive though.

I do like Jack Daniel’s, it is a slightly different style of drink though really, and my ultimate favourite spirit is Southern Comfort which while a little similar is also so totally different and very very drinkable.