Brandy and Coke is one of South Africa’s favourite tipples, particularly during the festive season, so what a lekker combination, I thought, with which to glaze a Christmas gammon. Coca-Cola makes an excellent glazing liquid because it cooks to a delicious dark stickiness, being so sweet and spicy (do you know that the top-secret formula is believed to contain vanilla, cinnamon, coriander and citrus fruit?).
In this recipe, a whole gammon is simmered in a beery liquid containing all the usual Christmassy spices, plus some whole star anise, which gives the meat a delicate aniseed flavour. If you don’t like aniseed, leave the star anise out. This is excellent served warm with boiled new potatoes and a green salad, or cold with mustard, pickles, home-made mayonnaise and hunks of crusty bread.
Whether you use a gammon with a bone in or one without is your choice, but please note that the cooking times differ (see recipe). Don’t throw the cooking liquid out: it's wonderfully flavoursome and aromatic, and makes an excellent stock for soups and stews (see my notes at the bottom of this page).
Christmas Gammon Glazed with Brandy and Coke
For the gammon:
a large gammon, weighing 2.5 to 3 kg, bone in or out
one can (330 ml) ginger ale
one bottle (330 ml) of your favourite beer
2 whole star anise
3 bay leaves
3 whole cloves
1 large onion, peeled and quartered
1 thumb-length quill of cinnamon
a large blade of mace (or a quarter of a nutmeg, grated)
1 tsp (5 ml) whole black peppercorns
water, to cover
whole cloves, to stud
For the glaze:
one can (330 ml) Coca-Cola
4 tsp (20 ml) Dijon mustard
1 tsp (5 ml) hot English mustard powder
100 ml brown sugar
1 tsp (5 ml) good instant coffee
1 T (15 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 T (45 ml) brandy (Klipdrift, if you want to be authentic)
Weigh your piece of gammon, or make a note of the weight printed on the label. Put the gammon, ginger ale, beer, star anise, bay leaves, cloves, onion, cinnamon, mace and peppercorns into a large, deep pot. Add enough water just to cover the gammon. Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat so that the gammon cooks at a lively simmer. Partially cover the pot with a tilted lid. If you’re using a boneless gammon, cook the meat for 30-40 minutes per kilogram. If you’re using a gammon with a large bone, cook it for 45-55 minutes per kilogram, or according to the instructions on the wrapping. Check the pot now and then, and top up with more water if necessary.
Turn off the heat and leave the gammon in the liquid to cool completely. (It’s a good idea to boil the gammon the day before, and to leave it overnight to cool.)
Preheat the oven to its hottest setting (220-240ºC.) Pour the Coca-Cola into a large, fairly shallow pan (a wok is ideal), turn on the heat and bubble briskly until the liquid has reduced by half. Whisk in the Dijon mustard, the mustard powder, the sugar and the coffee powder. Turn up the heat and boil fast, stirring often, for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the liquid has reduced and is slightly syrupy. At this stage, you should be left with about 200 ml of liquid. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice and brandy.
Fish the gammon out of its cooking liquid, pat quite dry and place in a roasting pan. Carefully peel away the rind and discard. Using a sharp knife, score the top of the gammon in a diamond pattern. Stud the gammon with whole cloves.
Pour the glaze over the gammon and place the roasting pan in a blazing hot oven. Cook for 20-30 minutes (how long this takes will depend on the heat of your oven), basting the meat every four to five minutes by scooping the glaze off the bottom of the pan and trickling it all over the top and sides. The glaze will thicken and reduce as time goes by: watch it like a hawk, as it burns easily. When the gammon has a mahogany-brown sticky crust, and there is just a little glaze left in the bottom of the pan, remove it from the oven. Using a pastry brush, paint any remaining glaze over the top and sides of the gammon. Set aside to rest for ten minutes, then serve hot with boiled new potatoes and a green salad. If you’re serving this cold, store it, uncovered, in the fridge, for up to four hours.
Serves 8-10 as part of a festive feast
A Gammony Meal on a Shoestring
As I mentioned above, gammons are very inexpensive at the moment, so here's a way of stretching a large gammon over two meals. This will serve six people for two meals, or more if you have an enormous gammon. And you might have some left over for sandwiches!
Boiled Gammon with Root Vegetables and Parsleyed Béchamel Sauce
Boil the gammon as described above, but omit the star anise and the ginger ale. Half an hour before the end of the cooking time, add a selection of vegetables to the pot: halved or quartered potatoes in their skins, thickly sliced carrots, parsnips and turnips, and some peeled, quartered onions.
In the meantime, make a parsley sauce (recipe below). Remove the gammon from the pot, pull off the rind and discard. Scrape away most of the white fat with a knife. Slice some of the hot gammon and place it on a large, deep platter. Surround the gammon with the cooked vegetables, and ladle over a little hot stock. Serve immediately, and pass the parsley sauce around in a jug.
Hearty Soup with Tomatoes, Lentils and Gammon
Put the remains of the gammon in the fridge. Strain the stock into a large bowl and refrigerate.
The next day, remove any fat that's congealed on top of the stock. In a separate, large pot, fry chopped carrots, onions and celery in a little olive oil, until softened. Add the cold stock, two bay leaves, a large sprig of thyme, two cloves of crushed garlic, two tins of peeled, chopped tomatoes, and a large handful each of brown and split red lentils. Simmer for an hour. At this point, you can whizz the soup a little with a stick blender, or you can leave it chunky. If the mixture seems very thick, thin it down with water
Now season the soup with herbs, spices and condiments of your choice: a little cumin and paprika, perhaps, some pungent dried oregano, chilli flakes, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce, and so on. Twenty minutes before you're going to serve it, dice the remaining gammon and add it to the pot. (Some quartered, boiled potatoes will stretch the meal even further.) Season generously with salt and pepper and serve hot, with a scattering of chopped fresh parsley, a dollop of cold natural yoghurt and some crusty bread.
Parsleyed Béchamel Sauce
3 T (45 ml) butter
3 T (45 ml) flour
350 ml cold milk
350 ml hot ham stock
1 tsp (5 ml) Dijon mustard
juice of half a lemon
½ cup (125 ml) finely chopped fresh parsley
salt and white pepper
Put the flour and the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat. Using a whisk, stir briskly until the butter melts, and allow to cook for two minutes. Now tip in a cup or so of the cold milk, whisking well as you pour. When the mixture begins to thicken, add the remaining milk and the ham stock, turn up the heat to its fullest setting, and continue whisking until the sauce has thickened and come to the boil. Turn the heat down to its lowest setting and allow it to bubble gently for another two minutes. Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in the mustard, the lemon juce and parsley. Season with salt and pepper.
Makes 700 ml Print Friendly