Gammon rillettes

“Two-thirds of women in the Armed Forces have experienced bullying, sexual harassment and discrimination during their career.” (Parliamentary Report in 2021).

I’ve never been a shrinking violet but still faced the sort of sexual harassment and discrimination that is clearly systemic now.

Joining the Women’s royal Naval Service back in the late 70s, I was completely unprepared for a culture in which women could be denigrated and side-lined.   I still remember physical sexual harassment on two occasions (both by senior officers); being told a job opportunity wasn’t for me because the senior officer would make decisions “with his glands”; being ignored when I complained of discrimination.   There was more and many others faced similar problems.   When involved with the performance appraisal system for some 37,000 RN and RM other ranks, we tried to make improvements by including “equality” in their assessments.   But the officer corps utterly refused to consider that such applied to them.   Years later after leaving the Navy, when advising the MOD, I tried again to Persuade the then Chief of the Defence Staff that equality was fundamental but met with angry rebuttal.   Now it has come back to bite them and about time too.

Just tried to book a Covid booster jab: earliest is a month away and they judge distance as “as the crow flies”.   Portsmouth or Southampton may be only a few miles away if you can walk on water but us lesser beings have to cope with the traffic – and heaven help other older people with disabilities.   I’m not convinced that there is the same sense of urgency or the practical arrangements to make all of this workable when winter flue and other bugs are imminent.

Meanwhile, I was happily making at least 30 delicious meals from a couple of gammon hocks: Under £8 for all the ingredients!

A couple of gammon hocks.

A mix of vegetables, chopped (carrots, onion, celery, parsnip).

Herbs and seasoning (spoonful of black pepper corns, handfuls of fresh rosemary and thyme leaves)

Seal all in a bag and vacuum pack before placing in a sous vide water bath at 70C for 30 hours.   Alternatively, seal in a roasting bag and cook in a very low oven until the centre of the meat reaches 70C – perhaps 6-12 hours depending on size).

Remove the skin, fat and bones to leave just the meat, vegetables and stock.

Shred some of the meat and pack into silicone muffin trays, topped with a little stock mixed with gelatine.   Chill.  (Served with homemade apple, date and walnut chutney plus a little salad garnish for a light supper/lunch or a starter)

Meanwhile, add soaked dried split peas to the stock and vegetables and simmer until the peas are soft.   Whizz until smooth, adjust seasoning and top with small pieces of meat: pea and ham soup.

Freeze the remaining meat for more meals on other days.

Vary the gammon rillettes with chopped parsley, some soaked mustard seeds or both.

 

 

 

 

Man of many talents.

You may have seen me cooking with John: for Comic Relief https://youtu.be/6SaB88MiUu4xx   and with an American guest https://youtu.be/cOXzP3NGzFkxx

Not only is he a super-cook but also Director of my long-term (over quarter of a century) taxi company but he has just turned avid fisherman and arrived bearing gifts of freshly caught mackerel.  He and brother-in-law Derek (of wedding cake fame) had just returned from another trip in their boat on the Solent.

Blind people are perfect for filleting fish: we can feel all those pesky tiny bones and get them out.  But I was grateful that John had already gutted the mackerel.  Simply fried in a very little olive oil, they were magnificent for breakfast with just a little of my apple, date and walnut chutney.

Last week, suitably masked, he prepared one of his favourite dishes: slices of gammon gently poached in honey with oven-cooked potato wedges.  And long-term Navy pal, Maggie (again, I’ve known her for more than quarter of a century) joined us for the cooking demo and to devour the results.

 

1 Large potato per person

Seasoning mix such as a little ground chilli, garlic powder, crushed dried thyme and rosemary, salt and pepper.

Olive oil.

1 gammon slice per person.

Honey.

1 fresh pineapple, skin, core and top removed, sliced.

About three cherry tomatoes per person.

Stab the potatoes and microwave on high until becoming soft.

Cut the potatoes in to wedges lengthwise and brush all over with oil and then gently roll in the seasoning.

Place in a moderate oven (Gas 5) to crisp and finish cooking.

To prevent the honey burning, mix with oil: 3 measures honey to 1 measure oil.

Heat the honey mix gently in a frying pan and add the slices of gammon.

Cook gently for 20-30 minutes with the mix just bubbling rather than simmering and spitting.

Turn the gammon steaks over halfway and/or baste with the mix.

Remove the gammon when done and keep warm.

Add the pineapple slices and cherry tomatoes to the frying pan and heat through.

Serve the gammon, pineapple and tomatoes with the potatoes, a salad and those wonderful cooking juices.

 

The special extra touch was the cocktail that John  created “to cut through the sweetness of the dish” or for any reason:  Tall glasses full of ice with measures of gin and bitter lemon  with segments of pink grapefruit squeezed over at the last moment.  Maggie got a taxi home!