Yesterday we did our weekly shop in the Cambridge market, and I was tempted by a big fat loin of bacon. I know they can be roasted directly, but I usually find the results too salty. So over the years I've improved and iterated on my recipe for boiled ham - something far, far nicer than it sounds. The aim is to retrieve tender, meltingly-soft and not-too-dry flesh, with a sweet glazed outside and crispy pieces of fat on top. I think at last I've perfected the method.
- 1kg rolled bacon loin
- 1 carrot
- 1/2 white onion
- 2 sticks celery
- handful of parsley stems
- 1 litre of cider, apple juice, cola (or any other sweet, acidic drink)
If your butcher uses a lot of salt, soak the ham in cold water for an hour or two, then drain and rinse. Scrub the carrot, celery and parsley stems, and peel off the onion skin. Put the ham in a close-fitting pot and tuck in the vegetables around it. Pour over the litre of drink and top up with water until the ham is just covered. Bring to a boil, then simmer for two hours.
Preheat the oven to 230 C. Cut diagonal stripes into the pork fat, then place in a baking dish and roast for 20 minutes. The object of this stage is to render the layer of fat between the bacon and its skin, crisp up the latter, and give the outside parts of the meat a nice golden brown temper. If your bacon has very little fat, you should reduce the cooking time so as not to dry the meat. Remove from the oven, and gently rub into the fat any of the following:
- thick honey
- brown sugar
- mustard powder
- ground cloves
Allow to cool at least 10 minutes before slicing, or the flesh will slice raggedly and fall apart. It should be possible to cut it wafer-thin for sandwiches after being chilled in the fridge overnight. Of course today we didn't have time and just ate it warm, in sandwiches spread with margerine and marmalade :)