I don’t have a problem with recession food. I’m happy to eat trotter or tongue.
The problem is that restaurants seem confused about the concept of recession food. Surely the point is that they don’t pay as much for the meat, so we get charged less for eating cheap cuts. More than often though, you find ox cheek priced like it’s beef fillet.
The cost really does come from the kitchen though – just to prove it, I procured two ham hocks for £3.50 this week. Sure, it mightn’t be the finest piece of the pig. But it’s a hell of a lot better than pink, slithery supermarket ham.
The best thing to do with the ham is to boil it. Baking a ham that’s got so much bone in it will only dry it out, while boiling it has the added advantage of making a nice, hammy stock.
I popped it a casserole dish with two quartered onions and some pepper corns. Fill the pan up with water, and simmer for three hours. At the end of this, you’ll have one delicious ham, and a pot-full of stock.
By the time my ham was cooked, I was starving, so the first thing I made was a simple ham salad. I dressed the mixed salad leaves and cherry tomatoes with vinegar and oil. I then tore up strips of mozzarella and strips of ham and mixed them in the salad. Delicious!
I still had lots of ham left over, so I decided to make a warm dish with the leftovers.
Start off by boiling up the pig stock. Wash the lentils in cold water, and then boil them in the stock for ten minutes and simmer for a further 20 minutes.
In the meantime, cut up the celery, and fry them in butter.
Once the lentils are done, add one tablespoon of crème fraiche, the lemon zest and the celery. Then tear up the remaining ham and add it to the stew.
Ok – it’s not the prettiest dish out there. No matter what camera angle I used, I just couldn’t get it to look as good as it tasted. Take my word for it though – this is the most comforting of meals, and the lemon and crème fraiche made it perfect for a sunny spring afternoon.