Gordon loves cooking and experimenting with food. He loves making new dishes, particularly with unusual or underused ingredients.
What Is a Gammon Steak?
Gammon is meat taken from the hind leg of a pig. Like bacon, it is cured in salt or brine and can be smoked or unsmoked. A gammon steak simply relates to the shape in which the meat has been cut from the whole, resembling very often in shape and size to the more familiar beef steaks. While gammon steaks are usually fried, grilled/broiled or griddled, this idea was a bit of an experiment, cooking the steak in a method perhaps more frequently associated with salmon. The gammon steak is essentially baked inside a puff pastry casing, along with a deliciously spicy pineapple and bell pepper topping/filling.
Gammon steaks are sold in a variety of forms and can vary significantly in price as a result. At the lower end of the scale, you have supermarket budget varieties which should be avoided if possible as they are often injected with water to bulk up the weight and this would make them especially unsuitable for cooking en croute.
This is not to say all vacuum packed gammon steaks are similarly processed and some (like the ones used in this recipe) are very good. The ideal option, however, is where you can buy a steak cut by hand by a local butcher.
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Prep time: 1 hour 15 min
Cook time: 1 hour
Ready in: 2 hours 15 min
Yields: One large serving
- 2 medium-sized baking potatoes
- ¼ each of red, green and yellow peppers, seeded and moderately finely diced
- 1 pineapple ring, moderately finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon chopped coriander leaf/cilantro
- ½ teaspoon chilli powder (optional)
- Black pepper
- 4 ounces puff pastry
- Flour for dusting
- 1 half-inch thick gammon steak
- 1 beaten egg
- Vegetable or sunflower oil for greasing baking tray and deep frying
- ½ head of broccoli, broken in to florets
- Chopped fresh chives to garnish (optional)
How to Make Potato Wedges (Stage One)
The potatoes should be washed (scrubbed, if necessary) but not peeled. They should then be cut in half long ways and each half cut in to three or four wedges. Put them in to a pot of cold water and let them steep for ten minutes or so to get rid of the excess starch.
Drain the potatoes and put them back in to the pot. Add plenty of cold water and some salt. Bring the water to a simmer and continue to simmer for ten minutes or until you see the skin just starting to separate from the potato around the edges of the wedges.
Drain the potato wedges again through a colander and leave to steam off for five minutes or until steam can barely be seen to be rising from them. Lay them in a suitable plastic dish in a single layer and refrigerate uncovered for a minimum of half an hour to further dry them out.
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How to Make the Spicy Pineapple Filling
Put the diced peppers and pineapple in to a large glass or stone mixing bowl. Add the coriander/cilantro and chilli powder. Season further with a little bit of black pepper but you shouldn't need salt as all the salt required will come from the cured gammon steak.
Mix all the ingredients together, cover with some kitchen paper and set aside for just a few minutes until required.
How to Assemble and Cook a Gammon Steak en Croute
It's a good idea to start by measuring your gammon steak. This is simply so you know how large you need to roll out the pastry. The pastry needs to be large enough to be folded over the gammon steak (with the topping) and be crimped around the edges.
Roll out the pastry on a clean, dry, floured surface. Brush one half of it with beaten egg and lay the gammon steak on the wet half.
Use a teaspoon to spoon the spicy pineapple combination on top of the gammon steak. Don't make the covering too thick and do leave a small border around the edge of the steak as shown in the picture. This makes folding the pastry over and crimping it much easier. It also means your parcel is far less likely to burst open in the oven. You may not need all the filling—that's fine. Any excess is actually very pleasant simply supped as a cook/chef's perk (provided of course that it hasn't touched the raw steak!)
Lightly brush the pastry border around the gammon steak with more beaten egg and fold the pastry over the top, ensuring it fits smoothly and there are no wrinkles but don't pull it too tight. Crimp the edges either between one thumb and index finger, your two index fingers, or any effective way in which you feel comfortable.
Put your oven on to preheat only at this stage to 425F/210C/Gas Mark 7. This is so the pastry has some resting time after it is rolled, folded and crimped, before it goes in to the hot oven.
When your oven is ready, lightly oil a baking tray and use a large spatula to carefully lift on the pastry parcel. Glaze the package all over with beaten egg, paying particular attention to the crimps. Use a sharp knife to cut three steam vents across the centre of the pastry.
Put the tray in to the oven for 30 minutes or until the pastry is risen and beautifully golden.
Take the tray from the oven and again use the spatula to lift the pastry on to a wire rack. Leave it to rest for ten minutes or so while you prepare the potato wedges and broccoli.
Preparing Gammon Steak Accompaniments and Plating Up
The potato wedges could be added to a deep fryer but in this instance were simply fried in a deep frying pan of oil. Either way, bring the oil up to a fairly high heat before adding the wedges (straight from the fridge) to fry for five or six minutes until crispy and golden.
Add the broccoli florets to a large pot of boiling, salted water and simmer for about eight minutes or so until just starting to soften.
Lift the potato wedges to a plate covered with kitchen paper to drain off while you drain the broccoli at your sink through a colander or large sieve.
Lift the gammon steak en croute on to your serving plate carefully (ideally using the spatula again) as it will still be hot.
The potato wedges and broccoli should be added to the plate and the chopped chives scattered as a final garnish before service.
© 2014 Gordon Hamilton