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19th Mar 2015

Kitchen hacks to the max: 3 ingredients 3 ways

Ham things up in the kitchen...

Planning a week’s worth of family meals is a bit of a drag at times. But there’re certain ingredients that just keep on giving. Take three core ingredients, add some cupboard staples and a bit of ingenuity, and we’ve got three night’s dinner covered.

This week we’ve got three ways with ham, asparagus and Gruyere cheese. Nigella’s ham leaves plenty of leftovers for the other meals.

Nigella’s Coke ham



2kg unsmoked boneless gammon joint

2l cola (not diet)

1 carrot, chopped

1 onion, peeled and quartered

1 stick celery, chopped

1 cinnamon stick

½ tbsp peppercorn

1 bay leaf


1 Put the gammon in a large pan and cover with cola. Add the carrot, onion, celery, cinnamon stick, peppercorns and bay leaf. Bring to the boil, then turn down to simmer for around 2 1/2 hrs, topping up with boiling water if necessary to keep the gammon fully covered.

2 Carefully pour the liquid away, then let the ham cool a little while you heat the oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5. Lift the ham into a roasting tin, then cut away the skin leaving behind an even layer of fat. Score the fat all over in a criss-cross pattern.

3 Mix the glaze ingredients in a jug. Pour half over the fat, roast for 15 mins, then pour over the rest and return to the oven for another 30 mins, baste half way through. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 10 mins, then spoon more glaze over the top. Can be roasted on the day or up to 2 days ahead and served cold.

Ham, cheese and asparagus frittata



75g (3oz) rolled oats

75g (3oz) white whole wheat flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

125g (4oz) cold, unsalted butter, cut into pieces

50ml (2fl oz) cold water

1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

450g (1lb) asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces

150g (5oz) cooked ham, diced

125g (4oz) Gruyère cheese, shredded

2 eggs + 2 egg whites

50ml (2fl oz) cup milk

Sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper


1 Process the rolled oats in a food processor for about 30 seconds, until finely ground.  Add the whole wheat flour, salt, and butter.  Pulse to cut the butter into the mixture until it resembles sand.  Gradually stream in cold water, pulsing just until the dough comes together. Be careful not to over-process or add too much water.

2 Remove the dough from the food processor, shape into a disk, and wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

3 While the dough refrigerates, preheat the oven to 160°C, Gas 3, 325°F, and lightly spray a 9-inch tart pan with cooking spray.

4 Once the dough has chilled, roll out to about 1/4-inch thickness so that it will cover the entire tart pan.  Press the dough into the tart pan and trim off any excess. Line with a piece of aluminum foil or parchment, and place one pound of dry beans or pie weights in the tart.  Blind bake for about 20-25 minutes.  Remove the weights and the foil/parchment, turn the temperature up to 180°C, Gas 4, 350°F and bake for an additional 10 minutes.

5 Meanwhile, saute the asparagus and ham with the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat (about 4-5 minutes, just until the asparagus is slightly tender).  In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg whites, milk, salt, and pepper.

6 Once the crust has baked, remove from the oven and fill with the asparagus and ham.  Pour the egg mixture down over the asparagus and ham, and sprinkle with Gruyère cheese.

7 Bake for an additional 25-30 minutes until the eggs are set and the cheese is melted.  Grill for a minute or to to make the cheese golden and bubbly.

Mac ‘n’ Cheese with asparagus spears



225g (8oz) pasta (macaroni or penne)

8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, divided

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 1/2 cups milk

2 cups grated gruyere cheese

1 cup bread crumbs

225g (8oz) cooked ham

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese


1 Preheat the oven to 180°C, Gas 4, 350 degrees F. Spray a 9-inch cast-iron skillet with nonstick spray.

2 Cook the pasta according to package directions, drain, then rinse under cool water to stop the cooking.

3 Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour, salt, paprika, and pepper and whisk to combine. Slowly add the milk, whisking until smooth and thickened, about 5 minutes. Add the cheddar cheese and stir until smooth.

4 Transfer the cooked pasta to the skillet. Pour in the cheese sauce, stirring to combine.

5 In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the remaining 5 tablespoons butter in the microwave. Add the bread crumbs, bacon and Parmesan and stir to combine. Sprinkle over the mac and cheese, and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until hot and bubbly.