GAMMON

by Ed Halmagyi

Instructions

There’s three things you should know about going out for a night at the pub with Irish mates.

Firstly, you’re gonna hurt! There’s no two ways about it. Your mortal frame is no match for their steel-lined alcohol-resistant stomachs.

Secondly, learn to nod and smile, even when you have no idea what they have actually said. You see, the more beer they consume, the stronger their gentle lilt becomes. Pretty soon it’s mostly melodic gibberish set to a soundtrack of U2.

But thirdly, stick around for breakfast. It’s the meal the Irish do best.

Now don’t expect anything that comes in a cardboard box or carries a low-fat label. My Irish friends like to get the day underway with a real breakfast, a man’s breakfast.

Thickly sliced gammon steaks with fried potatoes and whiskey sauce.

Yep, whiskey. Again.

Gammon is a medieval ham made from the hindquarter of a pig. It’s very popular in Ireland and the UK. Unlike modern hams, the meat is not injected with brine to cure, but simply immersed in a slightly sweetened saltwater bath. This process takes considerably longer, and the meat gets saltier as a result. However, the result is more tender.

Usually gammon are not smoked, unlike modern hams.

The other big difference is gammon is cured on the bone. This increases the ‘pigginess’ of the pork. It takes an expert butcher to remove the bone afterwards, but it’s one of those things where the results are certainly worth the effort.

And so, with a stronger flavour and a softer texture, gammon is my new favourite ham. I don’t even need to down a bath-load of Guinness first. Thanks heavens for that, I need a break from the craic!
Gammon steaks with fried potatoes and whiskey

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