A bit of a funny story on this one. So, in Romania, it’s quite common to eat pork meat and pork-based products for Christmas – in fact some families still buy whole pigs before Christmas and prepare tens of stuff, but that’s a story for another time.
Anyway, in our case we were looking for something to cook for our Christmas main meal, since we already had the appetisers and desserts covered. As it turns out, gammon is quite popular in the UK, so we decided to buy a piece for ourselves and try to cook it even though we had never done that before.
So, first funny story…I always thought gammon was venison/game meat, but I just learned it’s pork. So uh, yea, awkward, the more you know, I guess.
Second funny story…I was convinced we had bought a small 500g piece of gammon until 5min before I decided to cook it and it turned out it was a 2kg not-so-small piece. Hilarious, right?
Well, all of those adventures aside, we scoured the Internet far and wide for recipes since my family had never cooked that before and I managed to improvise something by taking inspiration from the hundreds of recipes we read.
So for the ‘soup’ ingredients we used:
2kg gammon (seriously, if you’re only two people, you only need about 500g of gammon, otherwise you’ll have leftovers for days)
A few carrots (2-3) and one onion, both cut in half or thirds
A generous amount of peppercorn seeds
A couple of bay leaves
Any other of your favourite spices (the piece of gammon we bought was smoked so we didn’t add salt or any other spices)
For the glazing:
2 tbsp of Dijon mustard
50-75g of honey (thicker is usually better, but if you don’t want the glazing to be too sweet, then you can reduce the quantity of honey)
1 tsp soy sauce
As far as the cooking steps are concerned, they’re fairly quick and don’t require too much of your attention.
Start by peeling your onion and carrots and cutting them into half/thirds.
Fill up a big pot of water (so that your gammon is fully submerged), add the gammon and the vegetables, as well as the bay leaves, peppercorn and any other spices you want.
Bring the whole to a quick boil then reduce the hit to a nice little simmer. Most recipes say to simmer it for about 20-25min per 500g, but I cooked our big 2kg piece for a bit less than an hour and it was more than enough. Don’t forget to remove any scum that forms while cooking!
After the gammon is done cooking, let it sit in the water off the heat for about 10min, then take it out and let it sit for another 10-15min. You don’t need throw out the soup that you just made! You can use this as stock for any other future recipes.
While you’re waiting for the gammon to cool off a bit, mix the glazing ingredients and once the meat is cool, gently remove any rind it might have on it, so that the layer of fat now becomes your outer layer.
Put the gammon on a baking tray or whatever deep oven-safe dish you might have. You’ll probably also want some foil under it because a lot of juices will be released while cooking.
Spread the honey-glaze all over the newly-made layer (use about ½ or ¾ of the glaze at first) and put it in a pre-heated oven of about 180-200 degrees Celsius.
Cook it for about 15-20min and then spread the rest of the glaze on it. Put it back in the oven for another 10-15 and then, with a spoon throw some of the juices on top of your piece of gammon. Repeat the process until the outer-layer is a dark-brown colour.*
*Remember, cooking time will vary a lot based on how big your gammon is. If you buy a small 500g piece, you should do step 8 at faster time intervals and of course you can use less veggies, spices, glazing, etc.
And that’s about it! Thank you to the Internet for providing an endless supply of recipes, many of which were way too fancy with ingredients we have never bought in our entire lives. At least the inspiration was there and maybe you’ll get some ideas too from what we cooked up!
My favourite part about cooking is how creative, imaginative, and original you can be. So, don’t be shy to change up ingredients, or try new things. Don’t have carrots? No worries, throw in some parsnip or potatoes! No sour cream? Well, some yoghurt might do the trick. You like spicy food but the recipe isn’t spicy enough for you? Throw in some chilies or your favourite hot sauce. You get the point!