A few random musings, since meat has been on my mind a lot recently…
- Gammon is basically pork from a pig’s hind leg, cured in a particular way.
- General heuristic (rule of thumb) for roasting or oven-baking cuts of meat from any part of a pig is 30 mins/lb (imperial pound) of meat and 30 mins over, all at 180 Celsius, plus 20-30 mins resting time (for joints rather than steaks or chops) once you’ve taken it out of the oven, to allow the meat to re-tenderise and the juices to redistribute themselves through the meat. Ask a good butcher for advice on specific types of joint.
- Never, ever eat pig meat raw — like chicken, it’s best to make sure it’s done all the way through before serving.
- If using a bacon or gammon joint (large lump of meat), place it in a saucepan with enough water to cover the meat completely and boil it for 30-60 minutes, depending on the size and saltiness of the joint. Skim off the grubby-looking froth at intervals; when this starts turning white, the meat should be ready for the next stage. This pre-boiling will help the tenderness and remove much of the salt in the joint, making it more palatable.
- Honey-mustard (as a sauce or glaze), apples, pineapple — these are all good accompaniments to pork (though not all at the same time!). Honey-mustard goes best as a glaze on a roast, apples/apple sauce can accompany a roast or a casserole, and pineapple+oven baked gammon steak=gustatory heaven!
- A good recipe for a special occasion:
- Take a good-sized pork or gammon joint and trim off the skin with as much fat attached as you wish. Use what you trim off for pork scratchings (tips here: www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/food/2010/08/starting-from-scratch-how-do-y.shtml and here: www.bbc.co.uk/food/programmes/b00tcz94).
- Pre-boil the trimmed joint, as described above.
- Transfer the joint, fat-side uppermost, to a rack in a roasting tin and score it diagonally, going first in one direction and then the other. Press cloves into the points where the scored lines intersect. Cover this side of the meat in a thick layer of dark muscovado sugar.
- Preheat your oven to 180 Celsius and cook your meat as described in the second bullet point, basting occasionally with a citrus fruit juice (orange is good). Once it’s finished in the oven, allow to rest and serve with potatoes — mashed, roasted or dauphinoise all work well.