While you can always buy cold sliced ham, it is very easy to cook it for yourself, and much nicer.
a smoked gammon joint (boneless)
24 hours to soak the ham (optional)
boiling the ham (see below)
- Hams are quite salty. If you wish to reduce the salt, take off all the wrapping and put the ham in a bowl of water for up to 24 hours. It's probably best to put the bowl in the fridge. Before throwing the wrappings away, note the weight of the gammon.
- Put the gammon in the saucepan. Add enough cider to cover the joint, plus any flavourings (see below). If you don't have enough cider, then add water to cover the joint. Put the lid on.
- Boil for at least an hour at the lowest possible heat. If it's a large joint, then boil for 20 minutes a plus an extra twenty minutes (I tend to cook it for at least an hour if it's a small joint). Check from time to time to see that the liquid level hasn't dropped too far. If so, top up with water (or spare cider).
- Leave the ham to cool in the liquor. When cool, remove from the liquor, remove any skin (if you don't like it - I don't), and it's ready.
- Do not throw the liquor away; it's delicious. Skim any nasties, plus all the fat you can, off the top. Then heat to make wonderful soup. Or use with water to cook .
- I mention flavourings above. You don't actually need any flavourings. The ham and the cider provide all the taste you need. However, you can add peppercorns or whole cloves. Or you can add some stew type vegetables, such as onion, carrot or celery. Don't overdo it, though.
- I have suggested a smoked gammon joint. This is a good quality joint, and I prefer smoked to unsmoked. Still, the same technique will work for any ham or bacon joint.
- The amount of cider will vary according to how big the joint, and how big the saucepan. Funnily enough, a small joint may need more liquid, since you need to cover it (or turn it occasionally while cooking, which is a bit of a bore). You can always drink any surplus cider! Of course, you could use other liquors, but cider seems to work well. If you just have water, then you probably will need some vegetables or something else to add flavour.
- There may be some confusion in America as to what I mean by ham. The British think of ham as a smoked or unsmoked lump of meat which is cooked first, often boiled, and sliced afterwards. It is usually eaten cold (often in sandwiches). It is not that salty, as the cooking process removes much of the salt. Bacon is also smoked or unsmoked, but is sliced thinly while raw (by the shop), then usually fried or grilled. It is part of a traditional English breakfast, and is very salty. Grilled sliced gammon (a type of ham) is much thicker than bacon, and we wouldn't have it for breakfast, partly because it's much more expensive!
© Jo Edkins 2007 -