Friday, April 9, 2010

A non-traditional (for Corfu) Easter Dinner or Hamming it up!

[...somewhere on the island, a small lamb breathed a sigh of relief.]

My dear T is not fond of lamb.  Though he does enjoy it, once in a while, slow-roasted over an open fire with olive wood coals...  

Still, in all, he prefers ham.  A ham at Easter is traditional in his family.  Who am I to buck tradition?? 

Due to the furniture packing, shipping and arrival taking up pretty much the whole week before Easter, and as we really had only exchanged via email with the people we'd made the arrangements with, (as well as at least 15 phone calls back and forth to Brussels!) we were inclined to not take on any Easter holiday commitments that we might have been squeezed to fulfill should anything with the moving/arrival of the furniture have gone pear-shaped at the last minute.

I really did mean to go into town and document all the Holy Week celebrations and parades and wonderful fun things in town this year, but alas, for anyone who wants my take on these things, you will have to wait another year.  (I've seen them and been to them over the years, but I've never tried to describe it all to anyone.  And obviously, I still won't - for another year!)

So, I decided to get the ham, which is actually a big hunk of gammon, something I was totally unfamiliar with before I lived in Corfu.

In the U.S. in fact they even have stores that sell just hams!  And I might add these hams are delicious, warm or cold.  They are not canned or pre-fabricated hams, these are the real deal.  But there are no Honey-Baked Ham stores in Greece. 

So I went to the "pork meat" place - which is what I call it because that is all they sell - out on the Paleocastritsa road (going out of town, a little past the Casa Lucia turn off, on the right side of the road...very unprepossessing looking with a little porthole window,  for those reading this blog, who live here and haven't found it yet!)  There I found my 4 kilos (about 8 lbs) of fresh gammon in its sealed pouch.

And so began our Easter dinner.

Friday afternoon I rinsed the gammon and put it in a pot deep enough to fill with water and cover the beast.  I added a small amount of apple juice to the water, covered the pot and left in in the "beer" fridge to soak for 24 hours.

Saturday evening, I emptied the pot, and rinsed the meat off.  Then I refilled the pot with fresh water and put the beastie back in the water.  I boiled/ simmered  it for about two hours.  Then I turned the heat off and went to bed, leaving the ham in the the hot water on the stove overnight.  In the morning the pot was still pretty hot (It was a big pot filled with a big ham and a lot of hot water.  For a smaller ham, maybe I'd refrigerate it but this is how I made my ham... )

For all practical purposes the ham is now cooked and you can slice it and eat it and it's just fine.  It shrinks a bit when you boil it.

But we wanted a nice baked ham, so the next step was to heat the oven to about 160 c/320(-ish) f and  then cut off the thin layer of skin on top, while still keeping the fat covering the ham.  Many people score the ham in a diamond pattern.  I forgot.  (Sometimes if the ham is odd shaped I will tie it into a more ham-like thing, but this one was close to perfect.) I baked the ham for a couple of hours.  Twenty minutes before I was going to take it out, I covered it all over with a mixture of about a cup of dark brown sugar mixed with two big tablespoons of dark honey and a big tablespoon of Dijon mustard.

It turned out perfectly!  I served it with mashed potatoes, flat green beans (zapped in the microwave for 4 minutes) and homemade applesauce with raspberries.  It was a very yummy meal.

T took a picture of it as he was so impressed.

For dessert we had Belgian chocolates.


  1. That was a lot of work for ham, but it certainly looked delicious and I'm happy to see the glass of wine in the picture.

    As an expat you often learn to improvise and be creative using foods available in your local community. In West Africa I've made "apple" pie using unripe mangoes. (Not often though. I'd rather just eat fresh ripe mangoes and forget the pie ;)

  2. We had almost the same meal for Easter, instead of raspberry applesauce it was fried apples for us. We even glaze our ham the same!

  3. Oh what I wouldn't give for a slice or two of that ham Jes! It looks like it was absolutely delicious. I really must think about doing a day trip this year from Bodrum to Kos (our nearest Greek island)..I need to stock up on lovely pork things...yum!

  4. Dear Miss Footloose,

    Indeed! Improvisation is the boon/bane of being an expat! (I can never decide which!) It is funny though what you end up craving sometimes, and then of course what you end up doing to try and duplicate the thing craved!

    Dear Wanda,

    I did forget one small detail of my glaze that I did differently this time, I added 2 Tablespoons of sweet orange marmalade to the glaze this time. (It turned out to make a very nice little difference! It made me wonder if any jam would do the same thing in the glaze, so it's on my docket for the next ham!?!)

    Dear Ayak,

    OH HOW I missed bacon and ham when we lived in Turkey! I remember whenever T would travel for business and I had a chance to go with him, the first things I would look for in every single city worldwide was a grocery store that sold packaged bacon (and or ham) and a bookstore that had English language books!! I can tell still remember how to find just about every single bookstore in any major European city! (I had a scruffy copy of Lonely Planet Europe that saw a lot of use - it always listed an English language bookstore for every major city!)

  5. The Lonely Planet for Turkey used to be my "bible" when I first moved here. Strange that eventually when I went to live in Goreme,Pat Yale, who was one of the guide's contributors, and lives in Goreme, ended up being one of my good friends!

  6. Oh...that's how the ham turned out! It looks like it was delicious. Next year I'm definitely adding ham to the menu. It's been so long!!

  7. I'm not a big fan of ham, but Honeybaked ones will make a believer out of almost anyone.

    Is brown sugar hard to find in Greece? I've heard people say that it is scarce in Italy, and I have to be able to make chocolate chip cookies with it...

  8. Oh, I forgot to ask you. Do you know anyone familiar with the far-south town of Krokeés (Sparta)?

    I'm looking for a stone boulder or two from there which are green and have lighter green flecks in it. I will pay very well for it, as it is the perfect basalt to create my next mosaic with.

  9. Dear Ayak,

    I still fondly leaf through my battered copy of LP Turkey. (I have two: the older version that was "new" in 93, and a more recent one.) I do mostly refer to the 1993 one as that was how I survived! I always felt fairly intrepid as I traveled most alone all over Turkey. I have wonderful memories of great kindnesses and incredible memory moments. I was always treated with great respect while traveling.

    Dear Cheryl,

    The ham WAS good. It's worth the work, I think. You should try and see if you can get one of those gammon things and try out (practice run!) cooking it. Even a small one makes a great Sunday dinner and then there are super leftovers that can compliment breakfast, lunch or dinner.

    (It's like cooking a turkey. T and I love to do that as we have turkey sandwiches, and turkey casseroles and turkey soup out of it all.)

    The problem is ultimately if your family will eat leftovers as some Greek people are not at all fond of the idea.

    Dear Eric,

    It's really surprising, if you would have asked me that question a year ago I probably would have said how difficult it was to find brown sugar (it was only always available at the British Store for LOTS of money), but not any more!

    For some reason it's now fairly easy to find - albeit not in big 5 lb bags... but then very few things are in large packages here as the weekly/daily food shopping mind set for "fresh" is very much true. (also a lot of people shop and carry their bags on the bus.) Here in Corfu at least they even started carrying chocolate chips! (NOT hersheys or bakers, tho...) So your chocolate chip cookie habit is viable in Corfu anyway!

    As for knowing anyone from the Sparta area, I'm sorry I don't. I will ask around, tho. For sure your beautiful mosaics deserve the lovely green stone!

    (I'm not exactly sure if it's difficult to just "carry" a boulder out of Greece without them thinking it's an 'ancient artifact' tho!)

  10. Great, they have brown sugar there, it's green lights and all systems go to move then. ;)

    That's a very good point you make about carrying out boulders. I'd have to make sure with the minister of culture around those parts that a stone is a stone and not an eroded piece of statue or something. Jail is not fun no matter which country you are in.

  11. very interesting as ever ! thank you



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