I cooked a ham. Looks good, innit:

Unfortunately I don’t think it’s going to taste as good as it looks, because I trusted the man who sold it to me when he said it didn’t need to be soaked before cooking, and the little bit I trimmed off to taste was VERY SALTY. Which is irritating, because it was quite an expensive chunk of meat. Ho hum.

It probably didn’t help that I steamed it instead of boiling it, but that’s how I cooked last year’s (after soaking it) and it was fine.

I also made an Italian Christmas cake thing called pangiallo, which was mildly stressful because of the not-very informative recipe and turned out to be a pleasant but completely unremarkable fruitcake of the kind I don’t like very much.

Bah humbug.


I cut a few slices, and it’s certainly saltier than I would ideally like, but it’s not unbearably, mouth-shrivellingly salty, which I thought it might be after the little test bit I cut off. So let’s call that a partial win!

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Mmmm, cured pork products

This is what I have been doing today (well, that and wrapping presents):

The ham is from Sillfield Farm, but I steamed and glazed it myself. I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out, although I know it’s not the most flattering photograph.

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Puy & pea soup

I cooked a ham over Christmas so I had ham stock in the freezer; which means pea soup. But I didn’t have many peas in the freezer so I added some Puy lentils (those little tiny green French ones). And it was very nice. The earthiness of the lentils and the freshness of the peas worked well together.

Puy & pea soup

I chopped up a potato and an onion and sweated them down for a bit, then added the ham stock, brought it up to the boil, added the lentils and simmered them for about 40 minutes. Then I added some frozen peas, simmered it for another 5 or 10 minutes, and blitzed it with a blender. It will probably be improved with a little seasoning, but bear in mind if you’re using home-made ham stock it may be a bit salty already.

I would have added some chunks of ham if I’d had any left, but it didn’t need them. And if you were being really perfectionist for some reason—like the Queen coming to dinner—you could pass the soup through a sieve before serving; but again, it was fine as it was.

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Scallops with serrano ham and sherry

Based loosely on ‘angels on horseback’ and a Spanish dish. No pictures, I’m afraid.

Mix up a little olive oil, lemon juice and pepper. Dip each scallop in the mix and wrap it in a narrow strip of ham. Fry the hammy scallops until just done. Deglaze the pan with dry sherry and pour over the scallops.

I actually cooked it in a frying pan on the barbecue, but only because the kitchen is so hot at the moment.

It was a tad too salty but delicious. A thinner-cut, less salty ham (prosciutto, if you don’t mind dropping the Spanish theme) would probably sort that out.