Monday, 30 December 2013

Roasted Gammon, then Ham and Bean Soup with Cornbread

Last week for Boxing Day I cooked up a small smoked gammon roast for our dinner. Today, I am cooking up the leftover with two types of beans to make a ham and bean soup. I'll serve this up with homemade corn bread.

Because my elder son doesn't eat soups I've kept a few slices of ham to the side for him which he will get along with some cooked carrots and, provided he still likes it, a bit of the cornbread.

Roasting a Gammon (Ham)
Roast gammon

Cooking time: 25 minutes/ 500gm (1 pound) + 25 minutes

Gammons roast up a bit different from other joints because they've been cured, usually in brine. This makes them incredibly salty if you're not careful.

I prefer a smoked gammon, but of course you may prefer unsmoked. The cooking directions are the same regardless.

To start, remove the joint from whatever packaging it might be in and submerge it completely in a pot of cold water. Let it soak at least 6 hours to help pull out as much salt as possible. I generally let it soak overnight, giving it a good 12 hours. Change the water after 6 hours, or in the morning if soaking overnight.

Discard this soaking water. Rinse out the pot and fill it again to cover the gammon over completely.

Now put the pot over a meium heat and bring the water up to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and let it cook for all but the final hour of the total cooking time.

A 5 pound gammon joint would  therefore be cooked. 25 X 5 = 125 + 25 = 150 minutes, or 2 hours 30 minutes. You would boil it for 1 hour 30 minutes, then bake it for 60 minutes.

Out of the water, into the oven

Preheat the oven to gas mark 6/400f/200c

Place the gammon on a rimmed baking tray or into a roasting pan. I use skewers if necessary to prop it upright in the pan.

Very carefully (because it is hot!) use a sharp knife to cut the rind off, leaving the layer of fat behind. Use the knife to score the fat into a diamond pattern.

I now like to stud each diamond with a whole clove, then sprinkle demerera sugar over the top before placing it uncovered into the oven.

Serve this gammon with a bit of English mustard and perhaps some roasted potatoes or parsnips, and a side of autumn vegetables.

Ham and Bean Soup
Ham and bean soup

I think there is nothing better than a hearty ham and bean soup on a cold winter evening.

You can use tinned beans, but it's cheaper to use dried beans. You just have to allow time for soaking and cooking them.

You'll need about a pound of beans, dried.  I grew up using butter beans, I've seen other recipes that use northern beans. I say, use what you've got to hand and don't fuss about it. For my soup tonight I'm using what I had in the pantry - so half a pound each of lima and kidney beans. These I covered over with water in a bowl to soak last night.

At lunch time today I drained the beans and placed them in a large cooking pot along with most of the leftover chopped ham and a finely chopped yellow onion. The gammon was still plenty salty so I didn't add any salt to the soup - remember, you can always add more salt but it is rather difficult to remove. If this gammon joint had come with a bone in, I'd have added that though.

The soup is now simmering on the cooktop where it will remain until we are ready to eat this evening. I give it a stir occasionally and will taste it for seasoning about 15 minutes before we're ready to eat.

Corn Bread

I use the recipe in the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook. However, I reduce the total amount of sugar by about half because otherwise it's too sweet. For the cornmeal I use masa harena.

Corn bread

1 cup plain flour
1 cup cornmeal
1 tablespoon sugar (the original recipe calls for 2 - 4 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 beaten eggs
1 cup milk
1/4 cup lard, melted (the original recipe calls for cooking oil or shortening, but I don't use these as they are dreadfully unhealthy)


Grease the bottom and 1/2 inch up the sides of a 9X9X2-inch baking pan, set aside.
Stir together the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Make a well in the center.
In another bowl, combine the eggs, milk, and melted lard. I use the glass measuring jug. Add this all at once to the dry mix. Stir until it is just moistened. It will be lumpy.
Spoon the batter into the baking pan. Bake in the oven at 425f/gas mark 7 for 20 - 25 minutes, until a skewer inserted near the center comes out clean.
Cool on a wire rack.

Or, do what I do and serve hot and slathered with lots of butter along side the bowl of ham and bean soup.

Generally, I crumble my cornbread into the soup then add a dollop of butter over the top.