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Delicious budget meals for frugal entertaining: Honey glazed gammon baked with star anise and tamarind recipe

Gammon glazed with honey

Gammon glazed with honey

Ham is generally superb to cook and eat. Gammon can be a bit disappointing with its rougher texture and stronger taste. A few weeks ago a good friend gave us two small joints of gammon, bought from the back of a lorry at a Bank Holiday market. The first one was simmered very slowly in the slow cooker and Danny gave it the thumbs down.
“It tastes piggy.”
The dogs didn’t agree.

This weekend I spotted the other one, nestling in the freezer. Loathe to give the dogs another treat, I remembered Smart Wife’s deluxe budget dish.
“I’m going to cook the roast this week. It’s going to be a retro meal. Roast gammon with fresh pineapple.and a sweet mustard sauce.”
Best not to mention honey as D doesn’t like it in cooking.

Danny was delighted to be released to the Rat Room until he made the gammon connection.
“If it’s the other one from that lorry, I’d boil it. Roasting it would be a mistake.”
With one glance at my face and he was backtracking with deft Irish ease.
“I’m stepping on toes. I’m sure that you have a master plan.”

In fact I had no plan. Just a yearning for simple roast gammon and pineapple. I wanted the gammon texture that’s so perfectly balanced by the taste and crunch of the pineapple. Back in the old Chelsea days, Smart Wife had a great recipe that was cooked by me on high days and holidays.

The thirty year gap makes any recollection of the recipe a bit fuzzy. All I could remember was grasping a thick plastic encased pack of gammon and searching for a tin of pineapple rings in the local supermarket. Things have moved on, it had to be fresh pineapple now. But what about the method?

I poked about on the Internet for a while. Mustard and Demerara sugar seem to be the active ingredients for the final glaze and these rang a faint bell. Finally I decided to forget Danny’s apprehension and Smart Wife’s recipe in favour of playing with the ingredients and flavours.

I grabbed a small fresh pineapple from the supermarket shelf and when I got home, located the honey and star anise. I’d loved Nigel Slater’s sauce in his recipe for pork spare ribs. I also decided to add tamarind to the mix. Cheaper than oyster sauce and the other ingredients, tamarind has a complex depth of flavours and I reckoned would work well. Incidentally, if you can find tamarind in a block this is much cheaper than the paste and it’s easy to prepare.

If you have a small joint of cheap gammon, this recipe is a real winner. Danny guzzled as much as he could.
“The sauce is superb. Any ‘pigginess’ must be masked by the fresh pineapple. I can’t believe that this joint only cost £2.50. Can I have a final slice?”

Ideally, we’d all have the funds to buy the best gammon. On a slim budget, this would be a great dinner party recipe. Star anise and tamarind paste are key ingredients. Good honey adds a gentle softness to the sauce. Perhaps it’s all down to the type of honey, I used some delicate borage honey produced by a fellow beekeeper near Saffron Walden.

Honey glazed gammon baked with star anise, pinapple and tamarind recipe (for 4 people)


Par boiling stage:

  • 1 kilo joint of gammon
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 8 black peppercorns

Roasting stage:

  • The par boiled gammon joint
  • 2/3 star anise
  • 1 tblsp of water

The glaze:

  • 4 heaped dessert spoonfuls of honey
  • 2 tsp of dry mustard powder
  • 10-20 whole cloves
  • 2 tsp of tamarind paste
  • 4-6 slices of fresh pineapple peeled and cored


  • Put the joint in a pan of cold water, add a bay leaf and some peppercorns. Bring this slowly to the boil and simmer for half an hour. Meanwhile preheat your oven to 180c (160c fan).
  • Remove the joint and retain the stock (great for lentil or bean soup). Put a large piece of foil in your baking tray and make a loose nest. Place the joint over 2 or 3 star anise and a tablespoon of water. Wrap the joint loosely in aluminium foil and roast for 20 mins per pound. Remove the gammon from the oven.
  • Turn up the oven temperature to 220c (200c fan) Open the foil, remove the skin from the fat and score diagonals in the fat. Put a clove within each diagonal. Sprinkle the dry mustard over the entire joint and pour over the honey, Return the joint to the hotter oven. Baste the entire joint after 15 minutes.
  • After 30 mins remove the joint to rest in a warm place (under the foil and several tea towels and towels) for another 30 mins.
  • Add the tamarind to the juices and stir. Adjust the seasoning and pour off the juices to an ovenproof dish. Add the fresh pineapple (peeled and cored) and turn over in the sauce so that each piece is coated in with the sauce. Bake at 220c (200c fan) for 15 minutes. *Meanwhile prepare your vegetables.
  • After 15 mins remove the pineapple and sauce from the oven.  Pour off the sauce to a fat and lean gravy boat and place the sauce and the braised pineapple in a warm place until the dish is ready to serve. The meat and the sauce can be kept warm for quite a while and won’t spoil.

*We’d recommend mashed potatoes, runner beans and broccoli.

  Leave a reply


  1. Kathryn

    Hi there
    Just stumbled upon your blog today making Sunday lunch with aforementioned cheap gammon joint under the Kg mark for my sil, hubby and 2yr old daughter and it was perfect! I admit to not making the pineapple and tamarind due to lack of fruit and time but will certainly adopt and adapt! Looking forward to exploring your blog from a fellow suffolk mum, cook and blogger 🙂 x

  2. Roberta

    Just note about dry mustard powder – rub into your hands and then wash off with water will remove smell of garlic (I also use a nail brush to work some under my nails as well)

  3. Fiona Nevile

    Hi S.O.L.,

    This is divine!

    We ate it again the next weekend as it was so good. Just added the twist of cooking the recipe with the cheapest gammon joint available locally and gave it the same treatment. It was perfect and the leftovers went in our next cauliflower cheese.

    Hello Liza

    Living on the Isle of Skye sounds so romantic.

    My paternal grandmother grew up in the Shetland Isles!

    Food blogging is great as you gradually create your own cookbook. All the tiny twists and additions are to hand. I’ve found this very useful as it’s so easy to forget exactly what went into that dish.

    Blogging is fun too. So pleased that you are enjoying our blog. Thanks for leaving a comment.

    Hi Jo

    I think of ham as the better cuts and gammon as the cheaper ones. A leg would produce ham and I’d slice gammon off a hock. This is just my off the wall interpretation of gammon and ham so your comments have been revealing. Thanks so much for the tips.

    It’s times like these that I wish Fred Fitzpatrick was still selling meat and giving advice. Sob.

    Sausages – pork, yes. We live in Newmarket sausage country. Wonderful unbeatable sausages.

    I do want to make my own next year. Worth working an extra stint to buy the sausage attachment for the Kenwood chef. The perfect Christmas present to me from me. The Musk’s recipe is exceptional but why not have a go at making our own? At least I’d know exactly what went into the sausages and it’ll be fun.

    Hello Tracey

    Thanks so much for dropping by.

    Our final test joint makes Lidl seem like Fortnum and Maison and it worked so well. I like eating free range meat but we generally eat the cheaper cuts. I’m determined to develop a range of great recipes for the cheaper cuts of meat and the bits and bobs that you find in the casualty department of the supermarket ech evening. It’s going to be my 2009 challenge!

    Hi Linda

    I don’t have a great knowledge about using tamarind in recipes. I discovered it just this year when I was experimenting with home made hot and sour soup. I started with the jars of tamarind paste (Bart does a good one if you are in the UK).

    When I’d worked out a few things that I could do with this ingredient I moved onto buying the blocks, as these were much cheaper. I use tamarind in stir fries, soup and Chinese style sauces. It gives a great depth of flavour.

    I reckon that ideally you need to be a granny and a child when it comes to cooking and developing recipes. There are four vital elements:
    • a bit of experience
    • loads more enthusiasm
    • a propensity to play(a sense of adventure)
    • a box of eggs (Danny says burgers) so you can rustle up an omelette /home takeaway if everything goes wrong. And it does with me, often.

    Thanks for dropping by.

    Hi Natasha

    This sounds like a great combo. I would never have though of using Dandelion and Burdock. Thank you so much for this suggestion.

  4. hi – try the nigella recipe of ham boiled in coke, but substitute dandelion and burdock….honestly!

  5. I envy your knowledge on how to use tamarind, well not envy exactly, I suppose I will get better in time. We tried the block a couple of days ago and use the other too.

  6. Mmmm, we finished Sunday lunch a little while ago and just had to post a ‘thank you’. I cooked this recipe with a £5 gammon joint fron Lidl, it was a roaring success, another recipe to add to my file which is rapidly becoming dominated by Cottage Smallholder contributions!

  7. Jo @ LittleFfarm Dairy

    Just curious to know what your interpretation is between gammon & ham; it seems so obscure these days & your comment about different textures/tastes has intrigued me.

    I remember taking our first pigs to be butchered, & asking for ham joints; only to be advised they couldn’t be done as the butchers’ premises had no cooking facilities – as gammon is basically uncooked ham! Confused? Me – definitely.

    Some people say that the difference between gammon & ham is the point at which the meat is removed from the carcase (they’re both from the same joint) with ham being removed & then brined; whilst gammon is brined on the carcase & then removed.

    However, as I understand it (& as several butchers have advised owing to my confusion), gammon is simply pre-cooked ham. But I don’t think there can be any hard-&-fast rules…which is a shame! After all, gammon served with either fried egg or pineapple has been cooked – & you can also cook ham – or is it just reheated?!

    Incidentally we soak our own home-produced ‘gammon’ joints for 24 hours after which we roast them in the Rayburn, much the same as you would a joint of pork.

    About half-an-hour before the meat is cooked I dress the near-cooked fat layer with a hearty slap of honey, a scatter of pungent dried herbs (of personal choice for the dish), a sprinkling of sea salt, & a good few grinds of cracked black pepper. Don’t be alarmed by the apparent darkness of the crackling, it tastes superb & is deliciously crunchy; whilst the meat beneath remains succulent, juicy & tender.

    BTW don’t forget this is National Sausage Week – the ultimate economical meal, with so many ways of serving said ‘bangers’ – especially with all your recent experimentation! Any helpful hints therefore…?!

  8. Absolutely love your blog, found it recently and am spending many hours loving your foodie inspirations. Oneday I will begin a blog about life and food issues on the Isle of Skye, but yours will be very very very hard to live up to. Thank you for all the insights and passionate writing!

  9. Gosh this sounds absolutely divine!

    I read your blog at work in the morning as I arrive very early (only one car in our house…). And you always deliver some FAB post! I dont really eat pork of any kind, not my thing. But I will remember this for Christmas when we are normally given meat by PB’s family, as they think I am barbaric making him eat veggie all week and then meat only at the weekend. To be truthful, I dont miss it.

    But this dish my FiL would probably love and as I have 2 weeks in Scotland with the in laws, it is one for the arsenal! Thanks! top banana!

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