We had a lovely dinner tonight.
Our main course was Ham in Coca-Cola, created by the very lovely Nigella Lawson (one of my favorite cooks). This is so easy. Everyone should try it! Due to me trying to be frugal, we used a pork blade roast instead of the ham. It was ok, but the ham version (which we've had in the past) is 100x better.
Trashy Ham in Coca-Cola
4 1/4-4 1/2 pound bone-in fresh ham
1 onion, peeled and cut in half
2-liter bottle of Coca-Cola
For the glaze:
Handful of cloves
1 heaping tablespoon of molasses
2 teaspoons of English mustard powder
2 tablespoons of granulated brown sugar
One thing before you start: Don't even consider using Diet Coke--it's full of sugar. If you know that you're dealing with a salty ham, put it in a pan covered with cold water, bring to the boil and then tip into a colander in the sink and start from here; otherwise, put the ham in a pan (skin-side down, if it fits like that), add the onion and then pour over the Coke. Bring to the boil, reduce to a good simmer, put the lid on (though not tightly) and cook for just under two-and-a-half hours. If your joint is larger or smaller, work out timing by reckoning on an hour for every two pounds, remembering that it's going to get a quick blast in the oven later. But do take into account that if the ham's been in the refrigerator right up to the moment you cook it, you will have to give it a good 15 minutes or so extra, so that the interior is properly cooked.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 500° F. When the ham's had its time, take it out of the pan (but do not throw away the cooking liquid) and let cool a little for ease of handling. (Indeed, you can let it cool completely and then finish off the cooking at some later stage if you want.) Then remove the skin, leaving a thin layer of fat. Score the fat with a sharp knife to make fairly large diamond shapes and stud each diamond with a clove. Then carefully spread the molasses over the bark-budded skin, taking care not to dislodge the cloves. Gently pat the mustard and sugar onto the sticky fat. Cook in a foil-lined roasting pan for approximately 10 minutes or until the glaze is burnished and bubbly. Should you want to do the braising stage in advance and then let the ham cool, clove and glaze it and give it 30-40 minutes, from room temperature, at 350° F, turning up the heat towards the end if you think it needs it.
For our sides we had an ethereal potato gratin. Now normally I have problem with gratins. I never cook them long enough. But this recipe has you precook them in the milk/cream mixture which gives you a head start on the timing.
From one of my kitchen essentials, "The Best Recipe Cookbook" by Cooks Illustrated, I present...
Classic Potato Gratin
For a more pronounced crust, sprinkle three tablespoons of heavy cream or grated Gruyere cheese on top of the potatoes after forty-five minutes of baking.
Serves 4 to 6
1 large clove of garlic , peeled and smashed
1 tablespoon unsalted butter , softened
2 1/4 cups half and half
1 1/4 teaspoons table salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
pinch fresh ground nutmeg
pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
2 pounds all-purpose potatoes , peeled andsliced 1/8-inch thick or less
1. Adjust oven rack to center position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Rub bottom and sides of 5- to 6-cup gratin dish or shallow baking dish with garlic. Mince remaining garlic and set aside. Once garlic in dish has dried, about 2 minutes, spread dish with half the butter.
2. Bring half-and-half, salt, pepper, nutmeg, cayenne (if desired), potatoes, and reserved garlic to boil in medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally with wooden spoon (liquid will just barely cover potatoes). Reduce heat and simmer until liquid thickens, about 2 minutes.
3. Pour potato mixture into prepared dish; shake dish or use fork to distribute potatoes evenly. Gently press down potatoes until submerged in liquid; dot with remaining butter.
4. Bake until top is golden brown (basting once or twice during first 45 minutes) about 1 hour 15 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes and serve. For our non-starchy veg, we had frozen snow peas, quickly defrosted under running water, drained, and tossed in a hot pan with butter.
All in all, a wonderful meal.
After Jason and I were done, we drifted off to do other things while the kids finished up. It ended up in arguements and screaming, but it was kinda funny.
Ethan: Oh no! Crocodiles are going to eat my dinner!
Gwen: (says the exact same thing as Ethan)
Ethan: NO! I said it first! Daaaaa-dy!
Gwen: (changing tactics) Ethan, my name is Abu (her name for Ethan)
Ethan: No, MY name is Abu
Gwen: (slyly) Nope. I'm Abu
Ethan: (appalled at such impertinence). NO GWENNIE, I AM ABU! YOU ARE GWEN, AND THAT IS DADDY AND THAT IS MOMMY AND I. AM. ABU!
Gwen: No, I Abu.
Gwen is so good at pushing his buttons, its scary.