As you can probably tell, I’m into American food at the moment; perhaps the pulled pork with Boston baked beans or wedge salad with blue cheese dressing gave it away? Cooking ham in coca cola is one of those ideas that sounds just outrageous but is actually brilliant. I’ve cooked it many times now. The cola imparts, as you would expect, a sweet and subtly spiced flavour to the salty ham and I finished it with a sticky glaze of molasses, mustard and rum, which melted into a glistening varnish.
While pondering how to eat it (it takes 2.5 hours to cook, I pondered a lot), my thoughts inched ever closer to the idea of a towering sandwich; a Man vs. Food style beast topped with deep fried pickles and hot sauce. Yes, deep fried pickles. I first saw this genius idea on Homesick Texan, a blog partly responsible for this American food phase. Pickles? Good. Deep fried stuff? Gooood. Together? BOOM! I decided on a combo of traditonal dill pickled cucumbers (I always use the Krakus brand since my friend’s Polish mother recommended them – so crisp), pickled chillies and those sweet little silverskin pickled onions which are totally under-rated. A crunchy cracker base (base, base, base) mixture surrounds juicy, crisp pickle. They made an excellent snack and a serious sandwich garnish that says I Mean Business.
The ham was easily torn apart with frantic fingers and stuffed, chunk on juicy chunk into a roll. We topped each with a selection of the pickles and sauce made with 50% home-made hot sauce and 50% ketchup. Oh my. This is what Sundays are all about.
Ham cooked in coca cola with a molasses glaze
1 x 2kg ham. Mine was was just over this weight (I used a boneless one; a bone will add more flavour but you need to account for the weight)
1 x 2 litre bottle full-sugar coca cola
1 white onion, peeled and cut in half
For the glaze
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons dark rum (or whisky)
Put the ham in a large pan, skin side down. Cover it with the cola and add the onion. Bring to the boil then reduce to a good simmer. Put a lid on, but not tightly; rest it so you have a teeny gap at one side. Cook for 2.5 hours (or just under if your ham is exactly 2kg).
When the ham is nearly finished cooking, preheat the oven to gas 7/210C
When the cooking time is up, drain the ham, put it in a dish then remove the skin so that you are left with a thin layer of fat. Score the fat into a criss-cross diamond pattern. Mix the glaze ingredients together well and brush the glaze all over the ham. Push a clove into the points of each diamond. Cook it for 5 minutes, then brush again with the remaining glaze. Cook for a further 5 minutes then remove the ham from the oven and allow it to cool.
5 good sized Krakus brand pickled cucumbers, cut into inch-thick slices
6 pickled chillies
6 silverskin pickled onions
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 pack Matzo crackers (about 75g. Matzo are very similar to the ‘Saltines’ that Homesick Texan uses)
1 scant teaspoon paprika
Salt and pepper
Vegetable or groundnut oil, for deep-frying
Preheat the oven to Gas1/140C
Cover a plate with flour and sprinkle with pepper and paprika. In a bowl, mix the egg and buttermilk. Put the crackers in a food processor and pulse to crumbs; spread this mixture on another plate. Dip each pickle first in the flour, then the egg, then toss about in the crackers. Set aside. Heat your oil for deep frying in a sturdy pan until it shimmers. You can test if it is ready but putting a little piece of bread in – if that starts to properly sizzle and fry, you’re good to go.
Fry the pickles in small batches; do not crowd the pan. Put the cooked pickles on a plate lined with a couple of sheets of kitchen paper and put in the oven to keep warm while you cook the rest.