Gammon, Pea and Greens Risotto

A recipe that came from the fusion of my love of cheese and ham and creamy risottos and my best friend’s love of greens in her food this has become a lovely treat and something everyone is fond of. This nearly got posted as two recipes, and I may even separate out the poaching of the gammon from it later but the two seem deeply entwined here so I’m posting it as one with the note that poaching a gammon joint like this and shredding it can make for great things like a topping for the flatbreads earlier in the week or mix with some soft goat’s cheese and pesto for a quick and delicious pasta sauce that very nearly made it as its own recipe if it were any more complicated that what I just said there. Not a quick recipe this one, ideally being spaced out over an afternoon or even a day, but a fairly easy one with the most complex parts of the method being things like stirring and setting timers.


A creamy risotto with mange tout, gammon and peas


Mise en place

  • Gammon Joint smoked, around 750g

  • Arborio Rice

So, there are two ways this recipe has been done, one which we lean towards nowadays is with around 250g of rice for 4-6 portions served on its own, here it is rich delicious comfort food, but it’s also been enjoyed with doubling up the rice, do make sure you’ve a big enough pan, and serving with salad, this is a far more of the creamy risotto that you might think of traditionally.

  • Peas frozen, around 200g

  • Mange Tout fresh, halved, around 200g

It’s worth noting here neither of these greens are a must, but some form of greens are, swapping these out for what you prefer or what’s in season is super valid, you just may have to adjust when they go in accordingly.

  • Onions one halved, the rest diced

I typically use three medium sized red onions, but these can be swapped for white onions or shallots quite easily as the proportions don’t need to be exact.

  • Garlic diced, sliced or crushed

Two or three cloves in whatever form is easiest for you.

  • Herbs and Spices

This can be tweaked to personal preference but I would recommend a base of either a Bay Leaf, a Bouquet Garni, a dozen Whole Cloves and a similar volume of Whole Black Peppercorns or the same with the Bouquet Garni substituted out for a blend of around a teaspoon each of Sage, Rosemary and Thyme. Not techinically under this label or strictly needed but a chicken stock cube or pot, or other unit of stock base can be a great addition.

  • Boursin 150g

So… I’m not on the BBC right now but: Other garlic and herb cream cheeses are available. I’m confident even that they would work and work well, but I love boursin so that’s what I cook with.

Method

So, this is a recipe that can be done in two parts, each taking around an hour, but that don’t need to be done back to back, simply in series, so poaching the gammon in the morning or early in the afternoon before cooking the risotto is very recommended.

Poach the Gammon

Prepare the Poaching Vessel

Select a medium sized saucepan, so that you can add about 1.5L of water and the joint and have it covered without being overfilled. If you’re doing more rice then up this, usually to around 2.5L, of course picking a bigger saucepan appropriately. If you don’t have a pan big enough for the boiling with all of that stock feel free to use a smaller one and dilute the stock as needed later, the important thing is to keep the joint covered. Add the joint, without any plastic wrapping but leave any butchers twine or similar that keeps the joint rolled. Add all of the herbs and spices, and stock cube if using and the halved onion.

Poach the Gammon

For 750g I would recommend around an hour at a bare simmer, usually a pan on the smallest ring on its lowest setting will be able to maintain this once it’s up to temperature. If you’re scaling up to a larger joint I’d advise adding around 15 minutes extra time to whatever the package recommends for the joint as this will allow for easier shredding.

Remove the joint and keep the liquor

Whatever you do; do not throw away the poaching liquid, this is going to be the stock you cook the rice in. Set the joint aside and let it rest, collecting any juices that it gives out as it rests to be added back to the stock.

Prepare the Risotto

Fry the gammon fat

Cut all of the fat you easily can off of the joint, if needed cut it into pieces no more than an inch square, and heat in a large saute pan, making sure to begin from a cold pan if it isn’t non-stick. Do this until the fat pieces have released fat and are beginning to go golden brown, at which point remove them from the pan and discard making sure to leave the liquid fat in the pan.

Fry the onion

Add the diced onion to the pan and fry over a medium heat stirring gently until soft and transparent.

Add and fry the garlic

For the last minute or so with the onions add and fry the garlic, waiting until it is richly aromatic.

Add and coat the rice

Add the rice to the pan and stir through to coat with the fats, the onion, and the garlic.

Begin adding stock

And so begins the longest step of the whole process. If your pan isn’t non-stick this will be a deglazing moment and make sure to reclaim all the fond that you can. Reduce the heat and begin to stir regularly. From this point on you will be adding stock to keep the pan reasonably slack and feed the rice until cooked, if you run out of stock either make up more from a cube or other base or just use hot water. Look first for the translucent look to have disappeared then taste test or cut a piece in half. In both cases you’re aiming for the centre to have lost its chalky texture. Once the rice is cooked stop adding stock and look to reduce and tighten up the sauce a bit, the sauce will be slacked back by the melt from the peas, and liquid from other veg and by the boursin.

Shred the gammon

Not strictly needing to be done here, but doing this in parallel to the stock simmering is normally a good shout. I normally tear it by hand once it’s cooled but working with a pair of forks is a good alternative if that qualia isn’t good for you. You’re aiming for bitesized pieces as you do this, so small chunks or strips work well.

Add the greens

From here you’re counting down to the next step, add and stir though your greens based on their recommended simmer times aiming to have them all cooked for the same time at the end of this step.

Add the gammon and the bousin

Finally add and stir through the last two major ingredients, the boursin may take some moments to begin melting and to fully stir though but be patient. At the end of this you should have the beautiful even creamy risotto picture above.

Serve

Serve piled high in soup bowls with a fork and enjoy, if you’ve chosen to do the more rice heavy version consider a salad of fresh leaves on the side.