Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Sorting out the things you use regularly Part Two - Ham

Ham, Gammon, Cured meats

I very rarely buy sliced meat unless it is on offer. The exceptions to this being salamis or cured meats however I aim to tackle that one in due course.  That is on the list to have a go at.  

As I have said before for the best part I buy ingredients preferring to buy a chunk of ham or gammon or a ham hock and cook it from scratch.   I have more choice of what I can do with the meat this way on, quite frequently getting a full main meal out of this for a weekday tea with the addition of vegetables as well as for pack ups or salad and any bits and bobs left over can go into a soup (Pea soup sprinkled with ham hock is particularly nice or Risotto and of course I also get the ham stock in which to make home made soup and for adding to gravy.  It is a buy product of the cooking so why waste it. It adds a lot of flavour.  But ah you say gammon or a boiling hock are extremely salty.  Well they can be it depends upon the cure, but one of the things I do to reduce the salt level is to soak the piece of meat overnight in the fridge in  bowl in plain cold water changing the water every couple of hours. I then process the meat.  This is my method of processing the same.

I fill a pan up with water  - I use a pressure cooker base and either cook in the pressure cooker following your suppliers instructions for timings and processing or just filling the base up with water popping in the ham and then bringing it to the boil.  This will produce a greyish scum which if left in the ham and the water will affect the appearance of the stock and the meat.  After bringing the ham to a boil  I then  take out the ham (it is not cooked ye) tip away this first batch of water and refill with fresh water. Pop the ham back in then add, some carrot, parsley, thyme, a piece of onion or a shallot, whole black peppercorns, a couple of cloves, a sprinkling of white pepper a very small piece of celery (celery is strong so you have to be careful with this.  Then reboil until the ham is cooked (depends on the size of the piece of meat as to how long this will take).

Bring the pan off the stove pour off the stock into a separate jug or jugs and pop into the fridge to keep it cool until you get time to process it - I quite frequently freeze mine in sauce bags for soups and into ice cube trays. That is the stock.

 However how you finish off the meat depends on what you are going to do with the meat.  If you want a glazed or breadcrumb finish you need to strip off the outer skin score it with a knife I usually cut diamonds.  Sometimes I pop in a single clove in each diamond glaze with honey or marmalade and then sprinkle with brown sugar.  Marmalade and ginger is also nice as is redcurrant jelly and orange.  It is then popped into the oven and cooked until a caramelised effect is achieved.  This is the fancy way often used at celebrations like Christmas etc.

However if you are just going to use it for a one off meal, and then use the ham for sandwiches, the kids pack ups, with a salad then our family tends to pop the ham into a deep bowl pop the ham in and then pour the stock over the ham until it is covered and pop into the fridge. Using the stock this way keeps the ham nice and moist and you can use the stock in gravies etc during the week.  The stock will become jellied.

I use both ways but tend to go the fancier way if entertaining.

You cannot afford a gammon or a ham - look out for ham hocks they can be processed in the same way although perhaps this cut keeps better with the stock being poured over it.  Then it makes  nice addition to a salad, to sandwiches, in quiches, in pancakes. 

If a larger ham you can always cut a few slices prepare a couple of leeks so you keep them in stick form, wrap with a slice of ham, place into a square/oblong baker and then pour on a cheese sauce, sprinkle with grated cheese and then bake until cooked. Makes a very quick supper.  

You really can use all of this and soaking the ham hock or ham first gives a smoother stock that is not over salty and if you cook one of these it should keep you in sandwiches for the best part of the week which will help keep the household budget down by making sensible choices.

Nothing nicer than a ham and mustard sandwich.

Catch up soon



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