Recipe of the Month – Vincent Price Baked Ham or Gammon in a Common Crust

I’ve made a couple of these lately.  Once for the brilliant cheese & wine party we had at my place, organised in order to drink all of the 24 bottles of lovely wine my ma and pa bought me and Mr R for our big birthdays.  That, as you can probably imagine, was a VERY drunken afternoon.

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I also made one for the Frickster Fiesta, where there were many hungry folks around the table and plenty of cheese and bread to accompany the Poblano peppers stuffed with Vincent Price Mexican Creamed Corn, and the Nicol Williamson’s Steak Mince and Stovies  – more about those coming soon…

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There was a third occasion when I was attempting to make one of these, and the chunk of ham Mr R brought back from Sainsbury’s was so huge, I didn’t have enough LARD about the place to make a pastry big enough to wrap it.  So I just baked it NAKED, it was nowhere near as nice as when you bake it in a common crust…  I don’t think I have ever said this out loud before, or will do again: “I am low on lard.”

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All of this to say.  If you have a crowd coming round, this is a brilliant thing to make.  If you break off the pastry in front of guests, I guarantee that someone will try and eat a bit.  They won’t like it though.  It’s not a pastry for eating, it is a pastry for swaddling.

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In Cooking Price-Wise Vincent observes: “The idea behind this recipe is to use the common crust, or pastry, as a wrapping for the meat.  This draws out the salt from the bacon while keeping in the flavour.  Using crust in this way existed long before tinfoil, and is still the best way of wrapping a large joint of bacon.” I heartily agree.

If you have the time and inclination you can decorate it as Vincent does in Cooking Price-Wise either directly on the ham (this is the first one I ever made, in 2011):

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or if you are using cake icing from a tube (!) you can do the flag on a piece of greaseproof paper.  It’s a guaranteed crowd pleaser!  Photo of Vincent’s original design in the background of this pic…

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If you want to know more about Vincent’s cooking prowess, don’t forget there is a fab event coming up here in London on May the 30th…

Party Like You’re Vincent Price! A Pop-Up Clip Show Birthday Celebration!

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Tickets can be bought here – just click on the link for more info. This is being organised by my chum Peter Fuller of the Vincent Price London Legacy UK site – Vincent’s daughter Victoria will be partying with us, it’s gonna be a lot of fun!

So without further ado – here’s Vincent’s recipe:

Vincent Price’s Baked Ham or Gammon in a Common Crust

1 ham or 1.5 – 1.8 kilo piece of gammon 

2 and 1/4 cups / 450 grams plain four

2/3 cup / 150 grams lard

2/3 cup / 150 ml water

Boil water in a saucepan.  Put flour through sieve and make a hole in the centre.  When water is boiling add lard and when this has melted pour it quickly into the flour.  Beat well with a wooden spoon.  Knead mixture until smooth.  Leave to stand for 15 minutes.

Roll out and encase ham or piece of gammon in it, carefully sealing it.  Place in a baking-tin in a moderate oven (350 F / 180 C / Gas Mark 4) and allow 25 minutes per pound and 25 minutes over.

Take off crust and serve hot or cold.  

Vincent suggests serving with Cumberland Sauce – which I did the first time I made it and that was utterly delicious.  Here’s Vincent’s recipe for that:

Vincent Price’s Cumberland Sauce

Juice and rind of 1 orange

4 tablespoons redcurrant jelly

Juice of 1 lemon 

1 glass of port

50 grams halved glacé cherries

Remove rind from the orange with a potato peeler.  Cut into needle-like shreds and cook in boiling water until tender (about 5 minutes).  Drain and rinse well.  Heat redcurrant jelly until dissolved.  Take off heat and stir in lemon and orange juice (strained) and port.  When cold add orange rind and halved glacé cherries.

Ooooooh yum!

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