Monday, 14 January 2008

Ham, ham, and more ham. And Blues.

I didn't have time to blog on Friday - in the morning I had brunch at idelic in Kingston, and shopped at the Essential Ingredient. And then it was off to Thredbo for the Blues Festival. That turned out to be a mixed bag - some really good music, some not so great; some crappy venues, some good ones. The daytime venues were outdoors, and very short on shade and seating. Most of the evening venues were too small for the audiences they were attracting. I did get to see Jan Preston, Ray Beadle, Andy Cowan, Mojo Webb and Dallas Frasca, and go for a couple of nice morning walks, so it wasn't a total loss. But on the whole, I prefer Goulburn. It's better organised, and bigger, and you can pretty well always get a seat.

We got home from yesterday in enough time to bake a half ham for dinner - and lunch and dinner again, and some more meals, and then freeze some more of it with the bones for winter soup. Ham doesn't actually freeze well, but if it's going to be used in soup it's OK. I got the recipe from the bloke's Mum, Moira. It's a good one.

Anyway, a serious chunk of ham is a very useful thing to have on hand for summer. As well as just eating it with salads, I like to use it in an extremely simple fresh pasta sauce. And there's always pizza and frittata and risotto for more variety - I'm thinking of a risotto with ham and baby peas later in the week.

Recipes for baked ham and ham pasta follow.

Recipe 1. Moira's Baked Ham

1 ham
1 1/2 cups Guinness
2 teaspoons dry mustard
1 teaspoon cardamom
1 teaspoon ginger
1 cup dark muscovado sugar

Remove skin from ham, score fat into diamonds. Put ham in a baking dish, and pour over the Guinness. Bake at 160C for 3 hours, basting regularly. Mix sugar and spices to a paste with a little of the pan dripping, and rub over the fat. Turn up oven to 200, and bake for a further 30 minutes.

Actually, I used half a ham, and kept the basting and paste ingredients the same, but reduce the initial slow bake to 1.5 hours. The pan juices reduce to an amazing dark spicy gel; it's worth de-fatting and saving this to use as a condiment in sandwiches. Dark muscovado sugar is a rarity here, but is available from the Essential Ingredient. It's a very dark brown sugar with a strong molasses taste; I imagine that regular brown sugar and a tablespoon of molasses would be a fair substitute.

Recipe 2. Simple Summer Pasta
chopped ham
ripe tomatoes
fresh basil
penne or spirali

Peel tomatoes, chop roughly. Mix with ham and shredded basil. Toss through hot cooked pasta. Serve sprinkled with parmesan, with a green salad.

this is more of a concept than a recipe, so no quantities. I used 4 tomatoes, half a pack of penne, and 150g ham today.

1 comment:

infoaddict said...

Thank you for the reminder about the Blues festival!! Given how close it is to us, we really _should_ try to get to at least one event this year!