Category Archives: slow cooking

Gammon glazed with honey and redcurrant jelly

Gammon is my all-time favourite meat.  We normally only have it at Christmas as an accompaniment to the turkey – I have never really understood this as I would be more than happy to eat just the gammon by itself.  But then I suppose Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a turkey.  We normally buy a huge gammon so that we can enjoy it cold in the days following Christmas in sandwiches, pies etc.

When it was suggested the other day that we get a gammon out of the freezer I was a little bit excited!  I think my favourite bits are the slightly caramelised parts on the outside of the joint and if I am being totally honest the fat (because it becomes so sweet due to the glaze).  Unfortunately these are also the favourite bits for everyone else in the family – so you can imagine the contest to get these morsels at Christmas.

Whilst cooking the joint may take a while it is absolutely worth it because it just melts in your mouth.  The gammon is good either hot or cold, so if you only have time to cook it the day before, do not worry as it will still taste delicious.

Gammon glazed with honey and redcurrant jelly

Ingredients:

  • A boned smoked gammon joint 
  • 2 bay leaves
  • pepper (for seasoning)
  • 3tbsp honey
  • 3tbsp redcurrant jelly

Steps:

1. Soak you gammon in a bowl of water for a couple of hours before cooking.

2. Dry the gammon slightly before placing in a roasting pan with one bay leaf on top and one underneath the joint.

3. Season with some pepper then cover the roasting pan with tin foil.

4.  Cook in an oven at 180C fan for 30 minutes per 500g of gammon (e.g.  2.5kg Gammon = 2 ½ hours cooking).

5. Remove from the oven and remove any string that the gammon may have been cooking in.  Carefully slice off the skin leaving as much fat on the joint as you can.

6. Warm the honey and redcurrant jelly in a saucepan.

7.  Score the fat on the joint in a diamond pattern then spoon over the honey and redcurrant mix.

    

8. Place the gammon back in the oven for a further 30 minutes, basting the joint every 10 minutes with the glaze.  Enjoy!

 

Changing the way I think about some foods – Rabbit…

Living in France has opened my eyes to many things in terms of food – the most notable of which has been the versatility of rabbit. Growing up in England, the only rabbit that I had eaten was wild rabbit.  Wild rabbit tends to look like a red meat that has a lovely gamey taste.  In France the rabbit is different because they are reared for their meat much like chickens in the UK, subsequently their meat is white.

It is a dream of my parents to become self-sufficient (if any of you have ever read John Seymour’s book The Concise guide to Self-sufficiency – you will know that if you are successful the only thing you should ever need to buy is salt).  In terms of the production of fruit, vegetables, honey and meat my parents do pretty well.  I am not sure they will every go the whole hog and plant wheat/barley in order for us to have our own flour but the possibility is there should they wish.

One of their best producers is their rabbits.  We have three breeding rabbits, Hop, Skip and Jump who have a maximum of two broods during the winter and spring months.  In our experience the rabbits produce roughly 6-9 kittens (baby rabbits) each time, which means we get anywhere between, 24-36 rabbits each year for consumption.  This makes rabbit a very economical animal to rear, particularly when one rabbit can comfortably feed 5-6 people.

I am not going to pretend that the first time I was told that we were going to eat rabbit for supper I was a little sceptical.  This is because my first pet was a huge white rabbit, called Snowy (I know it was a very original name).  Once I got past the fact that I was not in fact eating Snowy but an animal that had been reared for eating and it not the type of animal you can pick up and cuddle, I was pleasantly surprised at how nice it tasted.   People often make a comparison between the taste of rabbit and chicken and it is probably the best way to describe the flavour.  The meat to all intents and purposes is fairly bland, but it absorbs flavour wonderfully which makes it very good to cook with.  I fully appreciate that rabbit is not for everyone, but I would definitely recommend everyone try it once.

Yesterday I had some friends around for supper.  When I asked them what meat they would like for supper they replied ‘rabbit’ because they don’t eat it that often and, when they do, it is wild.  I have had an idea about how I wanted to try cooking it for some time with apple, cider and mustard and this presented me with a perfect opportunity.  The meal does take quite a long time to make as initially you have to poach the rabbit very slowly in the oven.  However it is certainly worth the effort.

 

Rabbit in an apple, mustard and cider sauce

Ingredients:

Stage 1

  • 1 rabbit (whole)
  • 2 small onions (roughly chopped)
  • 2 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 2 carrots (peeled and roughly chopped)
  • 2 apples (cored and roughly chopped)
  • 1 – 1 ½ litres stock
  • 1 bay leave
  • 1 large sprig of thyme
  • 5-6 juniper berries
  • Oil (for cooking with)
Stage 2

  • rabbit meat (stripped off the bone from stage 1)
  • ½ – 1 pint stock (that is left over from stage 1)
  • 2 medium onions (sliced)
  • 2 garlic cloves (minced)
  • handful of plain flour
  • handful of lardons
  • 2 apples (peeled, cored and sliced)
  • 2 heaped tsp Dijon mustard
  • 250ml medium dry cider
  • seasoning
  • oil (for cooking with)

 

Steps:

Stage 1:

  1. Preheat oven to 150C fan.
  2. Place the onions, garlic and oil in a large casserole dish, cook on a low heat until the onions are soft.
  3. Add the herbs, apples, carrots and rabbit to the pan.
  4. Pour over the stock until the rabbit is about ¾ covered.
  5. Bring to the boil, cover with a lid and then place in the oven for 2 hrs.
  6. Remove for the oven and leave to cool.
  7. Once cool, strip the meat off the rabbit and place in a bowl and pass the stock and vegetables through a sieve into a measuring jug so they are both ready to be used in stage 2.

 

Stage 2:

  1.  Place the onions, garlic and oil in a large casserole dish, cook on a low heat until the onions are soft.
  2. Add the lardons and the flour, stir together well.
  3. Gradually add in the stock and mustard and allow it to thicken, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add half of the cider, the meat from the rabbit and apples.  Cover with a lid and leave to gently simmer for around 20-30 minutes.
  5. Add the remaining cider and cook for a further 5 minutes then taste and season as necessary before serving with green beans and mashed potatoes or roasted vegetables.

 

Curry Night – A rich tomato based lamb curry

You can’t beat a good curry!  If I was getting a takeaway 90% of the time I would go for a curry.   When I was younger I used to really enjoy the coconut based curries like Korma, however over the years I have started prefer slightly spicier tomato based curries.  The curry I probably order the most is a Rogan Josh closely followed by a Bhuna.  It is fairly hard to come by a good curry out in France so I have had to try to make my own.  I am not a huge fan of shop bought sauces because quite a few of them leave an aniseed after-taste in your mouth.  That being said, they are very useful when you are in a rush and want to have a curry quickly.

By contrast, the type of curry I have been making is a very slow cooked lamb curry, whilst it uses a lot of spices it is very simple to make.  The joy of this curry is that once it is cooked the meat falls of the bone and is beautifully tender.  The spices I use give the curry a gentle warmth and would probably be best described as a medium spiced curry.  For my friends who struggle with its heat I serve a yoghurt dip (a combination of yoghurt, lemon zest and cucumber) and sliced banana which counters all of the spice.  Whilst I prefer this curry to be made with lamb I have in the past made it with rabbit and chicken which worked equally as well.

Below is a picture of my spice line up –

 

A rich tomato based lamb curry

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp fenugreek
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 10 cardamom pods (shells removed)
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  •  2 onions (sliced)
  • 2 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 3 heap tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 can tinned tomatoes
  • ½ pint stock
  • 750g – 1kg lamb (cut into chunks)
  • 2tbsp vegetable oil

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 160C fan.
  2. Place spices in a pestle and mortar and grind together.
  3. Place the garlic, onions, spices and oil in a large casserole pot (with a lid) and leave to cook on a low heat until the onions are soft.
  4. Add the lamb and leave to brown for roughly 5 minutes.
  5. Then add the rest of the ingredients to the casserole pot, give it a good stir before covering with the lid and placing in the oven for 2 – 2 ½ hours.
  6. Serve with rice and mango chutney.