Ham ‘n Eggs

Not just any ham and eggs; Ham in Coca-Cola, The Best Cornbread and Eggs. This meal satisfies me on a level that I can’t really explain – and it would be as good with chips, but part of the reason I make cornbread to go with the ham on a Friday or Saturday night is that the leftovers, served cold the next day for brunch – maybe with some grilled tomatoes and hopefully a bloody mary, are probably as good as the original meal. The ham in coca-cola is of course an adaptation of Nigella Lawson’s classic recipe.

Boiling a gammon is really easy. I never do it any other way than this, because I love it so, but if you don’t want the cola then you can use ginger beer, apple juice or even just plain water  if you like. Really though, if even just once, try it with the Coke. I don’t drink Cola at all, but for this meal it is absolutely right. The recipe for the cornbread is here – to be served warm, and you can serve the eggs how you choose. If you were serving it at breakfast, I might even suggest scrambled. I like brown sauce with this the best.

  • 1 gammon, mine was 1.6k. Most stuff that you get from the supermarket these days doesn’t need soaking, but check the packaging or ask your butcher.
  • 2 litres Coca-Cola
  • 1 onion, halved
  • 2-3 cloves (and some for studding the ham, if it takes your artistic fancy)
  • bayleaf
  • black treacle
  • english mustard or mustard powder
  • sugar (brown, or demerara is the best kind to use)

Bring your gammon to room temperature – take it out of the fridge a few hours before you plan to use it essentially, but if that isn’t possible, you can just add ten minutes to the cooking time. Put in a roomy cooking pot and add the bay leaf, onion and cloves. Pour over the coke to cover and put the lid on. Bring slowly to the boil and then simmer, for roughly 1 hour per kilo. Its done when you can push a skewer into the joint and it feels ‘firm but not rubbery’, which may sound fairly ambiguous, but you’ll know when it’s right.

Leave in the coke for about 10- 15 minutes off the heat and preheat your oven to gas 9. Take the gammon out of the pot, and remove to a stable surface. Carefully remove the skin, leaving the layer of fat behind. Now, you can take a sharp knife and cut a diamond pattern into the fat, and stud it with cloves if you like. Alternatively, if like me, you’re not so keen on that, spread a layer of treacle, a layer of mustard and a layer of sugar on. It may be that the fat on your gammon is at an awkward angle, like mine was, so some propping up might be necessary. Place the ham in a foil lined roasting tin (trust me, this is necessary) and put in the oven for ten minutes or so until the glaze has had a chance to melt. Remove from the oven, and rest for ten minutes or so whilst you do the eggs and warm through your cornbread.

The Tastiest Cornbread

As comfort food goes, this is possibly the best, certainly best return on effort I’ve found in a long, long time.More akin to baking cakes than breadmaking as we understand it, I can usually knock one up in ten minutes or so, and I would usually make two of these loaves at a time just because they go so quickly in my house. It goes for an afternoon snack, straight out of the oven, it goes with ham & eggs for dinner, it goes at breakfast time and in packed lunches. I imagine it would be perfect with a bowl of soup too.

This is my own recipe, but I have taken inspiration from Momma Cherri’s Soul in a Bowl Cookbook, and Jamie’s America

  • 165g cornmeal (polenta)
  • 125ml full fat milk
  • 3 tbsp plain flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 30ml butter
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • half a large onion, thinly sliced
  • small bunch of spring onions, diced
  • 200g sweetcorn – fresh from the cob is ideal, but it is January – canned or frozen is fine.
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 80g cheddar or similar hard cheese, grated
  • salt and pepper (quite a lot)

Melt your butter in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the two onions and cook, stirring regularly until they are soft and starting to brown a little. Add your sweet ccorn and cook for a few minutes more. Take off the heat to allow to cool down for a little while.

Preheat your oven to gas 6. In a large bowl addd your eggs (beaten), cornmeal, flour and milk. Stir, until combined. Add your cheese, chilli, thyme and salt and pepper and then add the onions/corn. Put in your baking powder, give a final thorough stir and then pour into a greased and lined 2lb  loaf tin, or deep sandwich tin and put into the oven for 40 mins or so. The cornbread is cooked when you stick a skewer or thin knife in, and it comes out clean.