Hi everyone BBC2 here, I hope you are all safe and dry in this wet weather we are having. Following on with our thrifty ham saga I bring you the last installment, a ham and leek dish, I did some years ago.
It was a few Christmas’s back and we had our friend Nors, her family, and our very good friend Mon who had spent Christmas in Cornwall with us. After Christmas BBC1 was driving Nor’s to the airport to return home, Mon and myself stayed back at the house and, like everyone at that time of year, we had bought far too much food! We had cooked most of the leftovers having cold cuts, curries and the like. Whilst BBC1 was out I looked at what was left to use for our dinner that evening. We had various vegetables including some leeks and in the meat department there was turkey, ham/gammon, beef and salmon.
I looked at the leeks and wondered if I could wrap them with a slice of the ham like cannelloni and make a cheese sauce? That was it! I had a plan…
500g/1lb leeks washed & trimmed
200g/7oz gammon ham or use what you have left from the joint sliced thinly
25g/1oz plain flour
300ml/½ pint warm milk
42g/1½oz gruyere cheese grated
42g/1½oz strong cheddar cheese grated
½ teaspoon English mustard
Preheat oven 160c fan
Having washed and trimmed the leeks place them in the shallow oven proof dish you will be cooking them in, to work out the best way to arrange them once you have steamed them, remembering that they will be covered by gammon ham and the cheese sauce, so take the opportunity to cut the leeks to make them fit the dish and easier for you when you serve them.
Then place the leeks in a steamer for 10 minutes, or until tender, then turn off the heat and leave them in the pan with the lid off, to cool a little.
To make the cheese sauce, melt the butter in a small pan on a medium heat then whisk in the flour which will need to be cooked for a minute or two, so keep the mixture moving using the whisk to stop it catching on the bottom of the pan. Now slowly add a third of the milk, whisking all the time to prevent lumps forming, you can take the pan off the heat and stand it on a tea towel this helps stop the pan moving while you whisk in another third of the milk. You should return the pan to the heat to allow the sauce to ‘cookout’ and thicken while you add the rest of the milk. You should now have a smooth white sauce, that you can use in lot of different dishes depending on what you flavour it with. For this dish you whisk in the mustard, both cheeses and turn off the heat but leave the pan there and the residual heat will melt the cheese.
Assemble the dish by taking each leek and wrapping it in some of the ham and putting into position in your oven proof dish, continue this until all the leeks have been covered and the dish is full. You can dot the bits of ham that you may have left over to cover any gaps or as part of the cooks benefits you get to eat them! Pour the cheese sauce over the leeks and ham, ensuring the ham is covered, then place in the oven and cook for 20 to 30 minutes or until it starts to go golden brown. I like to serve this with potato croquettes, (frozen, shop bought sorry to say, as they are such a chore to make!) sweet corn and fried mushrooms.
BBC1: This meal was such a lovely surprise when I got back from Newquay airport and has since become a regular on our table.
This concludes our thrifty trio of ham/gammon based recipes, the other two can be found here: Boiled Bacon, Lentil Pease Pudding, Carrots & Potatoes, and Lentil. Ham & Vegetable Soup. From our original ham joint we managed to get six main course meals and a dozen portions of hearty soup, not forgetting a lovely ham sandwich! The meat cost us just over a fiver and the sides less than that. Not bad for thriftiness huh?