Friday, July 30, 2010

Hamming it Up

Here are the results of comparison costing between bought v home-cooked ham. In this first picture (and sorry it is not that clear) the uncooked smoked gammon is on the scales and weighs in at 1.4kg - more than the 1.2kg printed on the pack. The price is clearly visible - £5. This is the first time I have bought gammon at full price, normally wait for it to be reduced (to£3.50 or less).

The sell by/use by date on the pack was 17th August, and so the gammons still had a reasonable shelf life when stored in the fridge uncooked. It could also have been frozen for a month.
After unwrapping the gammon, put it in my large casserole and covered it with cold water, then brought it slowly to the boil and simmered very gently for two and a half hours before turning off the heat and leaving to cool in the cooking liquid.
Could have added carrots, celery, leek to the water to give flavour (Nigella cooks her ham in Coca Cola!), but this would have added to the final cost so just cooked the gammon in water onlym knowing the flavour would still be good.
Incidentally, the cooking instructions on the pack were for roasting the joint, but I find this dries the meat out too much, and prefer the water bath.

After cooling, the ham was removed from the liquid, excess water drained off and the ham then chilled in the fridge (chilled meat slices more easily). Then the thin paper wrapped round the gammon (to hold it together when cooking) was removed and also the skin and underlying fat. You can see this on a plate at the side of the scales.

As you can (hopefully) read, the gammon (now called ham) - after being trimmed - now weighs in at just 1kg.

Slicing was done on my electric slicer, some thick sliced (for cold meat platter) and thinner ones for sarnies. For costing purposes it doesn't matter how few or how many slices are cut as although supermarket ham is sold in slices, the price is their weight and not number (although have noticed the thicker slices are dearer - as much as £2.25 per 100g due to it being 'proper' ham and not the (possibly) preformed thinner slices).

As normally done in the Goode kitchen, at least one third of the slices were carved more thickly as thicker slices are better when serving with other cold meats on my Cold Meat Platter. The rest were slightly thinner to use for sarnies.

The photo shows the ham after it had all been sliced - and every bit of the cooked gammon (after removing skin and fat) was able to be used. In the top left corner of the sliced ham can be seen a little pile of 'scraps' which tend to tear off slicing. Barely a handful, and these can be used either in sarnies, or an an ingredient in a pasta dish.

You can probably see (slices at the bottom right) the thickness of the ham. In all the 1kg final weight gave 38 slices (the scraps put together would have made at least three more). Most of the ham was packed away (6 slices to a pack) and frozen. The rest I intend to enjoy over the next few days.

Now we come to the comparison costing. The way I cost is start with the price paid, and ignore the uncooked weight as some of this is lost in cooking. All cooked meats lose weight when cooked, so this needs to be taken into account when costing out cooked roast beef/turkey/chicken/lamb/tongue etc. Only cost AFTER meats have been cooked and (if necessary) trimmed and any bones removed. With the ham - ALL the meat was usable after trimming.

So we have 1kg ham (or 10 x 100g) that cost me £5 (or 500 pence) so 100g of home-cooked ham is 500p divided by 10. Which I hope works out at 50p. Quite a saving on the average £1.50 for pre-pack prices (per 100g) and home-cooked ham tastes much, much better, and comparison pricing has shown that £10 has been saved. This time! Next time will wait for the gammon to be sold at a reduced price and then buy. This way the savings will be several pounds more.

Most people don't own an electric slicer, and the one Lakeland sell now (where I bought mine some 10 years ago) is very slightly (but not a lot) different to the one we have. Slightly higher in price but at less than £40, I would have only to cook a gammon four times a year (three if on offer) and the money saved would have paid for it. As it is I DO cook gammon about four times a year, but not only that, also cook a big joint of boneless beef at least twice a year, and a turkey crown also for the purpose of stocking up the freezer with 'cold cooked meats'. The slicer will also slice bread - perfect for the home-baked bread - which means slices are neater and often thinner than when sliced by hand.

Electric slicers are one of the kitchen 'gadgets' that really are worth their weight in gold. There are not many that save more money than they cost and continue to 'pay their way' but this is one of them.

Thoughts of 'what to make next' are changing slightly, for I was intending to make lemon curd, ice-cream and chicken liver pate in a way to show how both yolks and whites of egg can be used in different dishes. However - with Beloved still on the high seas and not sure when he will return, no point in making lemon curd as it has a shorter shelf life than jam, and also no room in the freezer (yet) to put a tub of ice-cream). So will put that idea on hold until later.