All good things come to an end and sadly Brenda has returned from her holiday with Bebe. It seems that she resorted to some of her more dubious past by scrumping in other’s orchards while staying in the middle of Herefordshire. It wasn’t helped that Bebe encouraged this gross misconduct by threatening anyone who challenged their fruit pilfers with an armed shotgun. (I wouldn’t dare challenge Bebe with or without a shotgun in hand! She’s a hairy lipped old dragon that even frightens the local constabulary). Sometimes I do wonder sometimes how these two managed to inveigle their way into my otherwise quiet life.
Now that the squawking maladroit is back I am faced with feeding her again. The other day I cooked a gorgeous ham for myself and a most attractive young man but we didn’t eat it all. For this recipe I used some of its leftovers. I like meals that use leftovers, they are often as or even more tasty than the original. This is a satisfying cheap main course and good for a mid week supper.
knob of butter
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 stick celery – peeled and finely diced
1 medium carrot- finely diced
1 leeks – well washed and cut into fairly narrow rings, although they’ll fall apart
125g mushrooms – finely chopped
100ml ham or chicken stock
Glass of dry white wine
1tsp Herbes de Provence – or a pinch each of thyme, chopped rosemary, oregano, lavender (purely optional), marjoram
1 or 2 bay leaves
Freshly cracked black pepper
1tbsp cornflour mixed with a few splashes of water
150g crème fraîche, soured cream, cream or milk
400g cooked ham from a joint – or gammon – roughly chopped but not too small as it will fall apart anyway
Peas, courgette, red pepper, sweetcorn – choose 2 or 3 of them and it’s a handful of each one
1/2 lemon – juiced
1. Melt the butter and olive oil together in a frying pan and gently fry the onion with the garlic, carrot, celery, leek and mushrooms until the onion is transparent and the vegetables have softened.
2. Stir in the Herbes de Provence and add the bay leaf, wine and stock.
3. Now add the ham and give everything a stir. Put the lid on the pan and cook for 10 minutes.
4. Add two or three other vegetables – we used peas, red pepper and sweetcorn (we used fresh, sliced off the cob, but tinned would be fine)
5. Season to taste – the reason you do it now is because you want to see how salty it is already due to the ham
6. Slake 1tbsp cornflour in a little water and stir into the ham and vegetable mixture. Stir well over a low heat until the cornflour mixture thickens the fricassée.
7. Stir in the crème fraîche, soured cream, cream, yoghurt or milk and cook through, squeezing over the lemon at the last minute.
8. Serve on a bed of white rice.