Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Christmas Gammon in a Wonderbag, with an Oros, Brandy & Ginger Glaze

One of the highlights of my year as a food writer is sharing a new Christmas gammon idea every November, because these recipes are always so warmly received. Much head-scratching went into this year's recipe, and I hope you'll like it. I've varnished this gammon with an Oros glaze because I wanted to use a South African ingredient I know will strike a chord with anyone who grew up drinking this iconic orange squash. (My recipe for Gammon Glazed with Brandy and Coke remains one of the most popular on this blog.)

Christmas Gammon Glazed with Oros, Ginger & Brandy, with my favourite
topping of fresh pomegranate seeds & pink peppercorns.  For a plainer
version studded with cloves, please scroll down the page. 

Oros has a distinctive sherberty taste and a lurid orange colour, which is part of its appeal. (It's free of tartrazine, if you're worried about that). My family were sceptical when I announced this as my choice of glaze. "Seriously, Mom? Oros?"  But the result was spectacular: citrussy and spicy, with glorious sunset colours.

Wine recommendation from Michael Olivier: He says: "Corder Cool Climate Elgin Syrah 2013. Matured in a combination of French and America oak barrels for 14 months.  Lots of fruit and spice which will meet the gammon perfectly."

It looks like:  Deep plum at the core, gem-bright purple garnet around the edges.

It smells like: Ripe bloodplums, pepper and oak spice.

It tastes like: Brambles and elderberries and spicy plums.  Soft and easy to drink with gentle ripe tannins which make it a excellent food wine.  Long and gently waning aftertaste.

I have used my trusty Wonderbag to come up with a recipe for tender, succulent gammon. I've had many successes and failures cooking Christmas gammons, and after testing this recipe several times, I'll never cook a gammon another way. The meat is deliciously soft and juicy, because its flavours don't leach out into the boiling liquid.  If you don't have a Wonderbag (and I urge you to buy one) you can simmer your gammon in stock, in the usual way. You'll find full instructions at the end of the recipe.

I made two versions of this, with two slightly different glazes: one with white wine wine - which preserved the glorious orange Oros colour - and the next with brandy, which produced a richer burnish. The first I studded with cloves (my family detested these) and the second with my favourite choice of gammon topping: fresh pomegranate seeds and a scattering of crunchy pink peppercorns.

If you don't fancy my Oros glaze, you'll find links to my other gammon recipes at the end of this page.

For this gammon, I used white wine, plus a studding of cloves. My
family didn't like the cloves, but I think they are very Christmassy.
Plate by David Walters

>> To see my gammon glazes of Christmasses past, plus three other recipes using the leftovers of a gammon, please scroll to the very end of this page.

Christmas Gammon in a Wonderbag, with an Oros, Brandy & Ginger Glaze

1 x boneless uncooked gammon, 1.8 kg to 2 kg, skin on
1 onion, peeled and thickly sliced
water, plus ginger ale or your favourite lager, to taste (see recipe)
2 bay leaves
1 star anise
half a stick cinnamon
1 grape-sized knob fresh ginger
1 small wedge of fresh lemon
4 whole cloves
5 allspice berries (optional)
1 tsp (5 ml) coarsely cracked black pepper

For the glaze:

1 cup (250 ml) Oros, or a similar sweet orange squash
½ cup (125 ml) white wine, or ¼ cup (60 ml) brandy
finely grated zest of a small lemon
4 tsp (20 ml) brown sugar
1½ tsp (7.5 ml) powdered ginger

To cook the gammon: place the sliced onion in the bottom of a pot big enough to fit the gammon, with some room around it. Put the gammon on top of the onions. Do not remove the netting around the meat.

(If you don't have a Wonderbag, please scroll down for my instructions about boiling a gammon.)

Fill the pot to a depth of 2 cm with water. Now add enough ginger ale or lager to bring the level of liquid up to 4 cm.

Add all the remaining spices and bring to the boil. Now turn the heat down to low, cover with a tight-fitting lid, and simmer for exactly 45 minutes.

Without opening the lid (which will cause the temperature in the pot to drop), place the pot in the Wonderbag, quickly cover with the cushion, and draw up the strings. The residual heat in the meat and pot will finish the cooking process. Set aside on the counter for at least six hours, or overnight, without opening the bag.

In the meantime, make the glaze. Put all the ingredients in a large saucepan, stir well and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat to medium and bubble briskly for about 15 minutes, or until the glaze has reduced by two thirds. You might find that the mixture seethes up in the pan: to prevent it from boiling over, stir it now and then, and place a spoon across the top of the pot.

Remove the gammon from the pot (reserve the gorgeous cooking liquid for soup, stock or gravy) and place it in a roasting dish. Use a pair of scissors to cut through and remove the netting. Now gently peel off the gammon's skin, making sure to leave a generous layer of fat behind. With a sharp knife, score the fat in a neat diamond pattern.  If you like, you can press a clove into the intersection of the diamonds.

At this point, you can put the gammon in the fridge for several hours - preferably overnight.  I recommend overnight, because it allows the meat to cool right down before it's glazed.  If you try glazing it while it is still hot, and not properly rested, the juices will leak from the meat and dilute the glaze.

Turn the grill to its hottest setting, and wait 15 minutes for it to heat to blazing.  Pour the glaze all over the gammon (don't worry if most of it runs off) and place the roasting dish about 20 cm below the grill. Watch it like a hawk, turning and tilting the pan often so the parts furthest from the heat brown evenly.  Use a big spoon to trickle the glaze over the gammon every few minutes.  It's really important to give the gammon your full attention while it's glazing - I put on a pair of oven gloves and perch myself on a chair in front of the oven.

When your gammon is sizzling and the fat layer a lovely rich golden colour all over, remove the tray from the oven, place it on the countertop, and tuck a folded-up cloth underneath one end to set it at a tilt. Continue for the next 10-15 minutes scooping and dribbling the run-off glaze gathering in the pan's corners over the gammon. As the glaze cools, it will cling to the fat.

Serve warm or cold, with pickles and potato salad, or as part of a Christmas feast.

Serves 6 as a main course with veggies and/or salad. 

To boil your gammon (This method comes from last year's gammon recipe):

1 x boneless uncooked gammon, 1.8 kg to 2 kg, skin on
1 can (340 ml) ginger ale
1 can (340 ml) lager of your choice
2 bay leaves, dried or fresh
3 cloves
10 peppercorns
½ tsp (2.5 ml) coriander seeds
1 star anise
1 grape-sized knob fresh ginger
1 small wedge of fresh lemon
1 onion, cut in half, skin on
1 large carrot, cut in thirds
a few stalks of parsley
water, to cover

Boiling a gammon in stockPut the gammon into a big deep pot and add all the remaining stock ingredients. The liquid in the pot should be at a level of about 2 cm above the top of the gammon.

Bring the gammon to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer at a very low burble, covered with a tilted lid, until it is cooked through. Please use your common sense here. I find that the cooking times given on the packaging for bone-out raw gammon (usually 55 minutes per kilogram) are excessive.

Every now and then top up the pot with more water, and skim off any mocha-coloured froth as it rises.

When the gammon is cooked, remove it from the pot, cover with clingfilm and let it sit for two hours on the countertop. Alternatively - and I recommend this method, as it allows the meat to cool and contract, without drying out - let your gammon cool overnight in its stock. (I always freeze the stock in small plastic boxes for use in future soups and stews.)

Now glaze as described above.

My other gammon glazes, plus five recipes using the leftovers of a gammon:

Christmas Gammon with a Beetroot & Wasabi Glaze

Christmas Gammon with a Pomegranate and Pink Peppercorn Glaze

Christmas Gammon with a Sticky Orange & Ginger Glaze
Christmas Gammon with a Sticky Orange & Ginger Glaze

Christmas Gammon Glazed with Brandy & Coke
Christmas Gammon Glazed with Brandy & Coke

And here's what to do with left-over gammon:

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