Gammon Pasta Bake

We tend to buy a small roll of smoke gammon every now and again. Most people who buy a roll of gammon from the supermarket do so at Christmas and tend to boil it, and then eat for Sunday lunch and then consume the rest of the pickings on sandwiches over the following days. Let's face it, if you get a small cut of meat you can make it go further. Off one small gammon roll we cut three steaks for a main meal, thick bacon for breakfast and this little tasty dish with all the off cuts. It's also cheaper than bacon, stretches further and isn't just for Christmas.

How to make a smoked gammon bake #food

Olive oil
1 x medium sized onion
50-100g of butter
As much gammon trimmings as you want to eat. We don't want to specify how much because everyone's tastes are different. We tend to cover the entire bottom of pan with the smoke gammon cuttings. We reckon this is between 300-500g of gammon.
2 tablespoons of plain flour
1/2 pint of full fat milk
100g of a strong cheese (for this recipe we used a gloucester cheese wheel infused with garlic)
3 cloves of garlic (ours are homegrown).
Enough penne pasta to feed four people (any pasta will do except spaghetti because it will dry out in the oven and you will have a bird's nest).
Cayenne pepper (to taste)
Black pepper (to taste = whatever you like, you know your own tongue)
1 cup of Parmesan cheese
1 pint of water

Put your water on for the pasta, when boiling add pasta. In a heavy bottom pan (one that can be used in the oven too, we don't want to spend all night washing up) fry your onions in the olive oil. We always have a pint of water ready when cooking, if it looks like it's going to burn we add water - just remember to keep that water topped up! Fry the onions until just turning soft then add your diced gammon, we cut our gammon up into small strips using scissors - watch your fingers! Fry until the smoked gammon is cooked through. Turn down to a low heat. Whilst this is cooking you will make a cheese sauce. In another pan add 50-100g of butter (for us cooking is not an exact science but trial and error) and melt over a low heat, take off the heat and add two tablespoons of plain flour and mix with a wooden spoon until it makes a rough paste. Get whisk! Put back on a low heat and pour in a little of the milk mixing in the butter/flour mix. The milk will start to thicken into a sauce, if it starts to go lumpy take off the heat and use the whisk to break up the lumps. You need to whisk to do this, don't just prod it, beat it, take out that anger! Return to heat and keep adding the milk every time the sauce becomes too thick. You may run out of milk before you get to the sauce consistency you need, which is like thick double cream - a great tip is to add water if you run out of milk. Once the sauce is double cream ready take off the heat and crumble the cheese into the sauce, you may have to put it back on a low heat to melt the cheese but don't leave it on the heat or else it will become too thick. You don't want wallpaper paste! You can add black pepper at this stage. Your pasta should be done by then, drain and add to the pan with the smoked gammon and onions, stir in the pasta, totally covering the pasta in the juices of the gammon and onions. Add the cheese sauce and again stir until all the pasta is coated and the gammon is distributed throughout the dish. Next grate one cup of Parmesan cheese over the top of the dish and sprinkle over cayenne pepper. Place in an oven at 220c for 30 minutes or until golden brown, serve with garlic bread.

Use a chunk of your own homemade bread. Slice the bread to 1/2 an inch from the bottom, the bread will remain intact and will look like a bread porcupine (see photo above). In a bowl mix 50-100g of soft butter with one garlic glove to create a paste. Spoon all of this garlic butter paste into the cuts you've made in the bread. Wrap in tinfoil and place in the oven for 15-20 minutes at 220c, uncover in the last 5 mins to crisp up. 

This whole meal is something to be placed on the table so people can help themselves. It is an gooey spooning meal, a satisfaction of tearing bread with family or friends. It's not healthy but it's better for you than chemicals found in many supermarket ready meals.