Ma’s Spiced Christmas Ham Recipe

Turkey is a boring bird, why have it at the Christmas feast?

We’re not, we’re having a GOOSE. However, we’ll demolish the whole thing in one lunch with only a few bits left over for a snack supper with bubble & squeak. So we need something else to feed the assembled hordes and that, is a spiced Christmas Ham.

Ingredients:

1 Large Smoked Gammon ham, rind on, off the bone. A green Gammon can be used if you prefer. (Mine is 8 kilos ie 17 lb). Actually, I’ve done it on the bone too – it’s just that it bigger and more cumbersome.

Several pints of vegetable stock, spiced with a small handful of All Spice and several Bay leaves.

Cloves (lots of them), soft brown sugar, demerara sugar, Ginger Ale, Cider and Mustard powder.

For the final phase: 4 large unwaxed oranges. Squeezed the juice, grate the zest of the peel.

Method:

First, weigh you ham and work out how much stock you will need….

Make the vegetable stock if you haven’t already. Grate up a couple of large onions, a washed leek, a couple of large carrots, a few sticks of celery, a parsnip and some lovage if you have any. In a large pan, fry it all together in basic olive oil, tossing and stirring for a few minutes. Add a few bay leaves, a small handful of all spice, black pepper and maybe some thyme or lemon thyme. Then add the water – you’ll need several pints – enough to cover the ham when you boil it. Bring to boil and cook pretty vigorously for 10 minutes.

Ham into very big pan – add the stock, straining it. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 12 and a half minutes per pound, (30 minutes per kilo) – then let the ham sit in the stock as it cools.

Fish the ham out of the stock and then carefully strip off the skin, leaving on all the fat.

Make a series of deep incisions into the fat (not quite to the meat) across the whole ham then at right angles, making diamonds which should be about 1 inch across.

Stud the ham with cloves, putting a clove into the centre of each diamond and one in any odd triangles of fat. You want a lot of cloves…..  It should look a bit like “Pain” from “Hellraiser”.  If you don’t have a clue what I’m talking about, no matter, you need a LOT of cloves.

Pour some Ginger Ale over the ham, then dust with a little mustard powder and sprinkle well with soft brown sugar.

Put on a roasting tray that allows you to baste. Slam it in a hot oven 230c. fat side up for 20 – 30 minutes (according to size).

After a few minutes, pour some cider over the ham..

a few minutes later pour some ginger ale, then again orange juice.

Shut the oven double quick each time.

After this, baste with the pan juices dredging up the sugar. Repeat this, 3 times.

Take out of the oven and pile up a crust of demerara sugar and course-grated orange zest on the fat.

Return to the oven at 180c. for 30 minutes. Do NOT baste. Drink the remaining cider.

Just as good cold as hot, if not better!

I got this recipe from my mother a few years ago and it’s the delicious Christmas flavour from my childhood. I’ve never had a ham like it but I don’t think it’s an original. I’m pretty sure it came from Constance Spry and she modified it a bit.

Sorry haven’t got a photo of this. I will have after Christmas, but that, is a fat lot of use!

Autumn recipes. Time for Ceps!

The first of the food blogs 

Autumn;  game, mushrooms, fruit, nuts….. especially mushrooms, especially if it stops raining and we have a few warm dry days.  Yes, we do get Ceps in Hampshire, they like warm sandy sites. Also some of the other Boletes, such as Bay Boletes and Red-cracked Boletes are pretty common and useful too.

The Cep, Porcini or Penny Bun, king of mushrooms

The first recipe is a northern Spanish classic. I first had it when we were setting up the Rioja Vineyard Walk and was hooked instantly. The trick is to get the liquid right, you don’t want too much of it coming out of the Ceps (and prawns) at a late stage in the process.

The second is a Veronese Risotto. Hence super-absorbent Vialone Nano rice and not much stirring. It should be creamy but the rice grains should be fairly firm still. 

And the third is one of my own, a rich Pheasant casserole-roast

  

REVUELTOS CON SETAS (Scrambled Eggs with Ceps)    Serves 2

 Ingredients:   4 large good quality Eggs.  

16 medium sized prawns (Optional)

100 – 150g Ceps

Dash of mild olive oil    30g butter / Bertoli              

 A little lemon juice   Salt   Chopped Parsley

 

PREP. Discard any damaged parts of the Ceps.

Cut Ceps into thick slices

If using uncooked prawns, cook on a high heat for a couple of minutes.

Beat the eggs in a bowl. Season.

 

Fry the Ceps with little mild olive oil in a non-stick frying pan on medium heat for about 2 minutes – stirring.

Add a few drops of lemon juice and some salt, but NO pepper. Vap off any juice.

Bring the temperature down and add the Prawns if you are using them.

Add a little butter / Bertoli or something similar, to the pan.

Pour the egg into the pan and cook on a gentle heat stirring continuously with a wooden spoon until it is cooked.

Add chopped parsley and serve.

 

Wine: Delicious, but pretty hopeless with wine. Better than straight scrambles eggs, I suppose, so you could try Champagne….

 

FRESH & DRIED BOLETUS RISOTTO         Serves 4

Ingredients:   Double handful fresh edible Boletus, ideally Ceps.

                        Dried wild mushrooms.

                        150 grams Nano or Arborio Rice

                        1 medium onion

                        1 medium Leek

                        Half bottle dry white wine

                        Clove of garlic, crushed.

                        Mushroom stock –  (or some good chicken stock).

                        Chopped parsley leaves and Chopped parsley stalks.

                        Salt

           

PREP: Soak Dried Mushrooms in hot water for several hours.

Then cut into julienne strips & half these lengthways,

the pieces will be roughly the same size as a fully inflated grain of Nano rice.

(The dried Mushrooms bring great flavor, but their texture is uninteresting).

Reserve the juice.

Cut the Fresh Mushrooms into ¾ inch-ish hunks.

Cut leaks into 1 inch by ¼ inch-ish strips.

 

Heat oil, add rice & chopped onion.

Fry the rice, but do NOT burn.

Once it has gone white / brown round the edges, add half bottle of white wine;

vap this off on a high heat for a couple of minutes.

 

Turn heat down to medium.

Add a small mug of stock, the crushed clove of garlic and a little salt;

Cover. Do not stir.

 

After 5 mins, add leak, dried mushrooms.

Test the rice, add another cup of stock.

Cover. Do not stir.

 

A couple of mins later check the rice again, it should be nearly cooked and fairly dry.

If it’s still hard, add more stock….

 

When the rice is nearly cooked

add the chopped fresh Mushrooms and chopped parsley stalks.

Add large knob of butter or Bartoli, stir in.

 

Stir well, scaping off the bottom and folding back in.

Add rough chopped parsley leaves.

Check seasoning and add more salt if needed

and SERVE.

 

OPT. You can add Parmigiano, but take care it doesn’t swamp the flavor.

Note: You can dry your own Boletus. Ceps can be found in Southern England, and there are many other members of this family which you can find even more easily such as Red cracked Boletus which do dry well.

 

WINE: This is a Veronese style Risotto so it calls out for a good Valpolicella Classico.

 

     

    PHEASANT, CEPS & ROSEMARY                Serves 4!

    Ingredients:   2 young pheasants

                            Olive Oil

                            Rosemary – a couple of large sprigs

                            2 cloves garlic

                            Double handful of Ceps and other wild mushrooms.

                            2 medium onions rough chopped.

                            Some red wine

                            Salt & Pepper

     

    PREP: Take 2 young pheasants that died off fright rather than getting both barrels.

    Make sure that ALLthe shot and bits of feather are removed.

    Cut the Pheasant in half down backbone, and remove ribcage.

    Reserve breast.

    Remove legs & cut off the drumsticks which go into the stockpot.

    Debone the thighs. Reserve thigh meat.

     

    MAKE THE STOCK: Chop up carcass with a small axe.

    Put it in large saucepan with small bits of meat and fat, skin and drumsticks.

    Add a little oil & rosemary, brown.

    Cover with boiling water. Boil to make stock. If you have tons of time before serving make a concentrated stock now! 

    Or if not, GET IT GOING and get it well reduced by serving time….

     

    ROAST: To a large deep frying pan, add some olive oil, the Pheasant pieces, salt and black pepper, several 2 inch sprigs of Rosemary and a couple of cloves of chopped garlic.  Brown the Pheasant!  

    Remove and put in a casserole /oven pan.

    Arrange so breasts are skin-up. Make sure there is a sprig of rosemary under each piece.

    All thigh-meat and any small bits should be lumped together so they don’t dry out.

    Add a couple of slugs of red wine and some stock (esp the fat from the top).

    Put into oven @ 200 for 30 mins, basting after 15 mins with more fatty stock.

    Then take out of oven, rest in a warm place.

    Put the rosemary & juices into the stockpot.

     

    FINISHING THE SAUCE:

    Get 2 rough chopped medium onions on to fry in olive oil for several mins.  

    Deglaze the cooking pan with a decent slug of red wine. – Add to stock pot which should still be reducing well. 

    Add the small Pheasant bits & thigh meat to the onion. 

    Add sliced ceps & other mushrooms.

    Add the reduced stock through a sieve.

    Check seasoning, adjust salt and pepper in needed, (however the Roast Veg should be well salted so the stock should not need more).

    The final consistency is a reduced sauce, not a liquid!

    SERVE:

    On each plate, place a breast and cover with sauce, making sure all get some thighmeat and plenty of mushrooms.

    Accompanied by Roasted root veg, including sweet potatoes.  

    And roast potatoes of course.

    WINE: A really good red burgundy with a few years ageing behind it. A Nuits-St Georges, Vosne from the south side of the village, a Gevrey or a Pommard should be ideal.