One of my resolutions this year is to make better use of the Saturday morning farmers’ market, close to my house. It only started a year ago, and is petite by most standards, but has, as far as I’m concerned, everything a farmers’ market needs. Two greengrocers, with a bounty of cabbages, potatoes, squash, apples and pears; a couple of butchers, an occasional fishmonger, plus a stall selling raw milk, cheese and eggs. In recent weeks I have noticed these being edged out slightly by stalls selling cupcakes and hot cider; while the cider is welcome I don’t believe a cupcake stall has a place at a farmers market, and fear it will become a home to processed food (though vegan and homemade it may be) and those selling raw, straight-from-the earth products will be sidelined. Or maybe I’m just prejudiced against cupcakes.
Usually a fan of the convenience of delivered-to-the-door supermarket groceries (don’t tut, it’s easy) I’ve learnt to make my shopping list in advance and stick to it. So I was a bit flummoxed on Saturday morning when I arrived in the market with no list, just the task to buy dinner, and such a choice of fresh food. Did I want wild boar steaks, or fresh lamb burgers, thick-cut bacon, or a few lamb chops, cleaved off a carcass by a buxom woman wielding a cleaver? I eventually plumped for a couple of slices of gammon, and paired them with a red cabbage (complete with real mud!), baby new potatoes and pears.
The dinner wasn’t 100% farmers’ market produce, I admit; I did use some lemon juice and a tablespoon of marmalade for the gammon glaze, but it was definitely more local than my usual fare. I wasn’t entirely sure I could taste the difference in the gammon, but the potatoes at least seemed to have more taste than supermarket-processed ones; or maybe it was just the joy of having gone outside to hunt them myself that made it seem that way.
Lemon and ginger-glazed gammon with red cabbage and pear
2 large gammon steaks
2 tablespoons lemon and ginger marmalade
1 red cabbage, cut into strips
2 pears, cored and sliced into cubes (keep the skin on, it helps them hold their shape)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1. Preheat the oven to 180 C.
2. Put the chopped red cabbage, cubed pear, lemon juice, sugar and a pinch of salt in a large saucepan with a couple of tablespoons of water. Cook over a low to medium heat for 2 hours, until the cabbage is soft and wilted and has cooked down to about half the original volume. Stir occasionally and if it looks like it’s sticking or burning (yes, cabbage can burn if you’re really special) on the bottom of the pan, add another few drops of water. Don’t add too much water though or you’ll end up with a dribbly dish when you serve it.
3. Season the gammon steaks on both sides, lay on a large baking sheet and spread with marmalade. Cook in the oven for 20 minutes, or until piping hot in the centre (depending on how thickly they’re cut), flipping once during cooking.
4. Serve the gammon steaks with the cabbage and some fresh new potatoes. Good food, served simply.
Serves 2 people who really like red cabbage.