A very happy new year to all of you. I hope you've enjoyed the holiday period and are feeling well rested and ready for 2008.
- Put the gammon joint into a pan of cold water and bring it to the boil. This is to remove any excess salt. Discard the water and rinse the pan of any froth and scum.
- Put the onion halves in the pan and put the de-salted joint on top of them. Pour 1.5 litres of cider into the pan and bring it to the boil. Once the liquid has boiled, reduce the heat to a simmer and put the lid on the pan (not too tightly). Simmer for 2.5 hours (adapt the cooking times according to the weight of the joint). You can do this in advance if you prefer.
- Preheat the oven to 170 degrees. Remove the ham from the cider and slice the tough rind off the joint leaving the white fat exposed. I'm sure someone clever could think of something to do with the cooking liquid, perhaps a soup base, but I'm afraid I got rid of it.
- Score the fat in a diamond pattern and add a clove to each diamond. Place the ham in a roasting dish. Mix the remaining 0.5 litre of fresh cider with 1 cup of the honey and pour the unctuous mixture over the ham. Roast in the oven for an hour (you may need to cover the meat with foil to stop it getting too dark). Baste the meat half way through.
- Add the cinnamon, pears and parsnips to the pan and cook for a further 45 minutes (basting twice). Add the cranberries and cook until the pears are soft and the cranberries are about to burst (about 30 minutes). Remove the fruit from the pan with a slotted spoon and keep them in a separate dish covered with foil. Leave the meat out of the oven, covered with foil.
- Pour the cooking juices into a small pan and add the remaining half cup of honey, the sugar and the ginger. Bring the mixture to a boil over a medium heat and cook until the mixture becomes syrupy and has reduced by half. Pour the glaze over the ham and cook for 15 minutes.
- Remove the ham from the oven, cover with foil and leave it to rest for 15 minutes or until you are ready to eat. Pour any remaining pan juices over the fruit and parsnips. I served the ham with a simple baked potatoes (you want something quite plain to showcase the sweet flavours of the meat and fruits) and green vegetables. Delicious.
* My cooking resolution is to grind my own spices, does anyone else have any good ones?