Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Ham in Coca Cola and Corn Pudding

There has been a short haitus of posting on this blog. The reason being a rather nasty kitchen accident. Being clumsy, I accidently dropped a piece of chicken into some hot oil which then splashed up and burnt my wrist rather badly. After copious amounts of first aid, I wandered back into the kitchen and sliced my finger open on the lid of a tin of vegetable stock powder. Cue blood, bandages, tears and self pity. What a night it was.

Anyhow, this rather put me off cooking and kitchens for a while. But all is now well and I'm moving on.

To get back into the swing of things I decided it was time to strike out in a new direction. If you peruse the archives of this blog you will notice lots of sweet, sugary things. That's because these are the things I am generally good at and therefore enjoy cooking. The awful truth is that I am a terrible meat cook. Mince I can do - lasagne, sausages, meat loaf. Give me a chicken , a leg of lamb, a kilo of gravy beef, and I will hand you back something tough, dry and tasteless.

It's time for this to change. So, I cast around for my first project and came up with ham. It's odd for sure, but I am intrigued by the idea of making my own ham. And I have seen endless rave reviews for Nigella's ham in coca cola (see recipe here), which is apparently moist, tender, delectable and dead easy.

The general method is to simmer the pork for a couple of hours, glaze and then bake.

So how did mine turn out. A bit tough and dry to be honest. In other words, business as usual (lol :-)). I may have been the meat that I used. The recipe calls for gammon which does not seem to exist here in Australia. I substituted a brined leg of pork from my local butcher. Or, it could have simmered at too high a temperature.

As for the taste, well that was very nice. I found the glaze to be sickly sweet, but the ham itself was very tasty.

I cannot help but wonder though, what the coke actually adds to this recipe other than novelty value. Nigella claims that using coke imbibes the ham with the spirit of barbecue. How? It adds no discernable flavour. So what is the point of Nigella's cherry coke recipe then? It may be moisture and tenderness, but is it really that different from ham cooked in water or stock? These are questions to ponder.

Nigella recommends serving this ham with corn pudding. I used this recipe from Epicurious. I left out the poblano chiles because they are not easily accessible here and the capsicum because I don't like them. It was really great. The corn flavour was intense and the pudding texture was lovely. The only issue was that it was overly sweet. The recipe calls for half a cup. I actually chickened out and only added a quarter of a cup. Corn is a sweet vegetable by itself. This was still too much. Next time I might limit it to a tablespoon.

As an added bonus, this recipe uses chihauhua cheese. I have never heard of that before. I would love to try it. I had to settle for plain old cheddar.

Despite their flaws these two dishes made an enjoyable meal. I am still keen to perfect the art of hams. So I will keep on trying and hopefully one day I will have something marvellous to report.

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At 4:43 am, Blogger Freya said...

The corn pudding looks great! To overcome the sweetness, you could try adding some jalapenos, spring onions and sharp cheddar, all of which make the dish less nursery food and more supper food.
Sorry to hear about the ham, I've found that the bubbles in the cola tenderise the meat generally by breaking down the proteins. Silly question but you didn't use diet coke?

At 9:18 pm, Blogger KJ said...

Hi Freya and Paul

Thanks for your excellent suggestions. I think they sound ideal for this dish.

No, I used full fat coke. I think I will just have to try it again.

At 9:22 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

we've done this with chicken wings/drumettes but spiced it up with chillis and more. Turned out really well, sticky and moreish!

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