Step away from the sink! That ham stock is liquid gold

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Image: What do I do with

Via: Chris Fleming / CC BY-SA 2.0 / adapted / Flickr: chrisfleming

Turkey might be the official meat of Christmas, but everyone knows that it's really ham that steals the show. Smoky and succulent, boiled in something exciting like ginger beer and roasted in anything from honey to mustardmaple syrup or marmalade, a good gammon is a festive game-changer.


But there is one quandary that gets us every year, and it's not "How many cloves are too many cloves?" (although that is an important question). It's "What the devil do I do with this pot of delicious gammon liquor?"

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It usually goes something like this: you can't bear to throw away that salty, porky elixir of life, and quite right too, so you carefully bottle it up. You plan to use it to flavour a series of beautiful dishes over the Christmas and New Year period. "What a domestic whizz I am!" you think, smugly. "I'm like Nigella, without the satin dressing gown." 


Then you get distracted by a house full of leftovers and a Radio Times full of retro musicals, forget all about it, and before you know it you're sadly pouring away the bottle of liquor when you find it at the back of the freezer in March. 


No more! Make this the year you finally go the whole hog. Here are five lovely ideas to help that meat liquor reach its true potential.


Cook your greens in it

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Collard greens are a comfort food staple on southern US tables, and it's hard to think of a tastier way to eat your veg. Traditionally they're cooked with ham hock, pork fat and chicken broth, as in this dish from Simply Recipes, but you could swap in your gammon liquor for a festive side that has both bubble and squeak in abundance (use kale or cavolo nero if you can't find collard greens).


Make soup with it

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A soup is only as good as its stock, and your leftover gammon liquid will make a truly super one. Try it in a festive veggie soup, perfect for those days between Christmas and New Year's Day where you need to feel nourished, but don't want to stop dousing everything in pork fat quite yet. 


This recipe for leftover hambone soup from Damn Delicious uses the ham itself as well as onions, potatoes, carrots and stock, so it's quite the festive fridge-clearer.


Put it in risotto

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Stirring a creamy, unctuous risotto has to be one of the greatest ways to spend a winter's evening, and it's also one of the greatest ways to use your precious ham stock. Try it in this pea and gammon risotto recipe from Drizzle & Dip for an extra smoky, porcine result.


Rustle up some ramen

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Pork is the secret key to rich, silky-smooth ramen broth – in fact, some of our favourite Japanese eateries serve pipettes full of extra fat – so your Christmas gammon stock is just begging to be used in a soulful bowl full of noodles. 


This pork ramen recipe by Jelly Toast uses miso paste for bonus umami, veggies for a vitamin boost and golden, runny-yolked eggs to remind you there's life after Christmas food.


Stew your pulses in it

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Really delicious stock has the power to transform lentils, grains, beans and the like from a pile of school-dinner blandness to a thing of soothing, satisfying beauty. Try putting your ham liquor to use in a hearty stew like this lentil and sausage creation from Simply Recipes.


Things to remember …

  • Gammon liquor can be very salty, so taste and check as you go along and dilute your stock if it packs too much of a punch.
  • You'll need to refrigerate your liquor within two hours of cooking, and use it within a couple of days. You can also freeze it for up to three months. 


Oh, and by the way …

"Gammon" refers to the raw joint of meat, which has been cured in a similar way to bacon, while "ham" is ready to eat – either dry-cured or cooked. Once you've cooked your gammon, you can call it ham.


So now you know.


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