[Smashy the Hammer] [An Aspiring Luddite]
I carry no phone
An aspiring Luddite
In a wired world.
[Jeff Berry]
Jeff Berry is an early adopter of the Internet and the Web, a late adopter of Twitter, and declines to adopt Facebook. With the death of Google+, he's experimenting with federated platforms. He admins a medievalist Mastodon instance, and can found on the PlusPora diaspora pod. He hates cell-phones.

Best Ham Sandwich Ever
26 January 2015
[Christmas Dinner]

Ironically, it's harder to find a Christmas goose in England than one would expect. We've been having goose for either Christmas or Thanksgiving for quite a few years now, but, Dickens notwithstanding, geese are thin on the ground - metaphorically speaking. Turkey is quite common, though. However, I've not made a turkey for the winter holidays for quite a few years (we've had goose), and I wasn't interested in starting, or re-starting, now. So we debated. We hemmed. We got tired of hemming, so we hawed for a while. Then a germ of an idea occured to me, sparked by the fact that I had a freezer full of beautiful local pork. I would do a twist on ham sandwiches. When that idea came to me, the rest of the menu fell into place. We'd do a weird take on a picnic.

Now, when I say picnic, I mean something utterly unlike a picnic in almost every respect. We ate inside, at a table, with hot foods hot and cold foods cold. What we did do, was riff on the idea of picnic foods. We'd have potato salad, in this case, warm German potato salad. We thought about corn on the cob, but it's the wrong season for sweetcorn. Instead, we opted for brussels sprouts on the stalk, because you can eat them like you would eat corn on the cob, if you want. And we wanted.

The centerpiece was the ham sandwich, which, in keeping with this rather tortured concept piece, was not a sandwich and did not feature ham. Rather it featured pork, stuffed with cheese, smeared with mustard, breaded and baked. To be fair, it would work quite well with ham, I suspect. [Lots of pictures]

Best Ham Sandwich Ever

Make a medium brine, and add juniper berries, cloves, and peppercorns in whatever quantity seems appropriate to you - a teaspoon to a tablespoon of each is probably in the right ballpark. Split an onion almost through and add it to the pot. Submerge your roast and simmer gently for a couple of hours; it needs to be just cooked through, since the final step in the oven is not really a cooking step as far as the meat is concerned. Remove the pork and let it cool. Save the cooking liquid for soup stock, sauce base, or other uses later on.

As an aside, whenever I'm doing this sort of cover-with-water-and-simmer process, I tend to stick the meat in the pot, cover with water to the right level, remove the meat, and then make the brine in the pot. That way you don't cause the liquid to overflow when the meat goes in, and you don't have extra cooking liquid going to waste.

When the meat has cooled, cut large, thick slices. Then split the slices open to create a pocket. Stuff the pocket with grated cheese. Tie your little packets closed with kitchen twine. Smear them all over with good mustard, then roll them in seasoned bread crumbs. You see! It is fresh ham, mustard, and cheese inside of bread, so that's a sandwich, right? Pop them into a medium-hot oven for fifteen minutes, to melt the cheese and brown the crumbs. (I put them in for the last fifteen minutes that the sprouts were roasting. The sprouts themselves were just washed, rubbed lightly with olive oil, sprinkled with salt and roasted for about forty-five minutes.)

We served it with bit of cranberry-onion relish on the side, and it was delicious. You could make this with actual ham, of course, and good thick chops would also probably work well - although with the latter, getting the cooking times right might be tricky.


© 2014 Jeff Berry
The Aspiring Luddite