It seems to me that there is a glut of pork in South Africa right now, as the hams and gammons I’ve seen in the shops are astonishingly inexpensive. I bought a 2.6kg gammon last week for just over a hundred rands, and very good it was too. Scroll to the end of this post, and I’ll give you some great tips for stretching a gammon like this over two – or even three – meals.
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.
Christmas Gammon Glazed with Brandy and Coke
Serves 8-10 as part of a festive feast
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.
For more great Christmas recipes click here.
This blog post was originally published on Scrumptious South Africa.