It was the second annual Piccalilli Saturday a couple of days ago and my house still reeks of vinegar.  Delicious.

Heather came over the night before and we sat at the dining table like two old ladies chopping marrows and drinking vodka and having a good old gossip about our men.  Cucumbers, French beans and cauliflowers were formed into little cubes and florets of similar size.  We were very pleased with our vast amount of chopping – no nicks or slicing of fingertips.

Next morning I left Heather sleeping off all the chopping in my pit of a bed and got the ham in the oven.  I made a big’un – 6 ½ pounds – so made one and a half times the pastry.  This wasn’t enough to cover the big piggy so had to make an extra half batch with whatever was at hand.  Note to self – buy two blocks of LARD next time.

Here he is all wrapped up in swaddling clothes:

I was in a little world of my own trying to seal all the little holes with my back up batch of pastry.  Here he is fresh out of the oven four hours later…

And then released from the crust…

I decided to leave the fat on (Vincent didn’t specify) and that was the right thing to do.  There was a lot of liquid in the pan when I took him out of the oven so I am assuming that despite my patchwork pastry patching there were a few holes somewhere.  I’d love to try and get a perfect seal sometime, but in spite of all that it was perfectly cooked.  And I hesitate to say it, but as I am reading My Life in France by Julia Child and she occasionally gives herself a compliment: ‘It was of a perfection historique”.

Here he is in full splendour with Vincent’s guide pic in Cooking Price-Wise visible above.  What a nut!

Nathan did the decorating for me – he put the union jack on a piece of greaseproof paper because the boys protested about a little bit of cake icing, saying that I shouldn’t “ruin a perfectly good ham” by piping it directly on top.  I think Vincent would have used cranberry sauce for his union jack.  Et voila!  A triumph in gammony form!

Some of you know that I am a terrible hoarder and Heather was determined to force me to chuck away any jam jars left over once we had bottled up the Piccalilli. Here it is during early stages.

She counted the amount of jam jars I had about my person – 113.  The Piccalilli filled 31.  So that left 82 jam jars. Cooking it up – yum!

Some comedy moments ensued as I tried to hide some as she put all the leftover jars in bags for recycling.  Cathy came round for a sherry to see how the Piccalilli was going.  She was partly on my side saying things like: “keep that one, it’s really cute”, making Heather shake her head in despair.

I felt exactly like one of those women in a TV show having professional help in order to declutter.  This was distilled into a moment when Heather was walking past with a bag of jam jar lids for chucking out, when I said “I need to keep that one” picking a spotty one off the top.

Heather was very firm.  I could keep a few PERFECT jam jars – only ones of a sensible size for jam or chutney with no gummy label residue on the sides and with a lid that fits.  She has a point – I kept seven.  I shall try not to let it all get out of control again and I will take these out of the door to the recycling when I get a moment…  No taking any out of the bags “just in case”, I promise…

The boys brought delicious bread from Gail’s and a variety of cheese – Nathan baked the camembert with rosemary and garlic – mmmm, and we had stilton, gouda and some seriously good extra mature cheddar that Mr R sourced from Budgens.  I will ask him the specifics of that because it made all other cheddars seem like pap.  We had two MASSIVE slices of gammon each and vast amounts of cheese.

Heather made very dainty cheese and gammon open sandwiches with hers and we were all exceedingly happy with ourselves. As Heather and I sometimes say to each other: “greedy fat pigs!”

Please excuse all the scribblings over Vincent’s recipe – this is the third time I have made this and it gets better every time.  I know some people think it is naughty to write in books but Darwin did it and so do I!  Heartily recommended – let me know if you try it…

Don’t look too closely at the comment next to the ingredients list.  When I made this at Ptolemy’s place her friend Sally made a comment that made me laugh so much I wanted to write it down.  It has nothing to do with Vincent or ham and is a bit bawdy, but if you like a challenge I’ll give you a prize if you can decipher my writing.  Guesses welcome via the Contact Me page!

Thank you Vincent for your delicious way of cooking ham.

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