Ham and Piccalilli go together like Hall and Oates, or Garfunkel and Oates, or Simon and Garfunkel. They go together well. Ham is, by nature, very salty. As such, it pairs up beautifully with anything sweet and acidic. There’s a reason you so often see it with pineapple, honey and apple. It cries out for them to cut through the bold salt and tie it all together. Piccalilli – while not most people’s initial thought when it comes to sweet food – perfectly encapsulates this. I always thought of piccalilli as “grown-up pickle” when I was a child. It’s that stuff that dad likes to eat, the weird, over-strong cousin of Branston. It wasn’t until I was around 20 that I tried it again and developed a real taste for the stuff. It is a mustard-based pickle, created during the era of the Raj as an attempt to replicate Indian pickles. Naturally, with its vinegar base, it is extremely acidic. The sweetness content varies, and it can sometimes benefit from a stirring of runny honey too.
These rolls are rolls in the sense of a sausage roll – wrapped tightly in puff pastry, it makes an absolutely wonderful variation to the Christmas nibble platter. You’d also be surprised at just how well the pastry contains all that filling! If you’re a ham-eating family for Christmas dinner, you should absolutely use some of your leftovers to make these as Boxing Day treats. They are so incredibly easy. While I did once have a go at making piccalilli myself, I won’t be attempting that here, making the entire process even simpler.
- Ham joint
- Pre-rolled puff pastry
- Piccalilli – sweeter is better, and small chunks too.
- Beaten egg
If making the ham specifically for this
- A small glass of cider/apple juice
- 1-2 Bay Leaves
- Cinnamon stick
- 1 tsp Ground Cloves
- If Making the ham specifically for this, a slow cooker is best, but a lidded pot in the oven will also work. Add the ham to the slow-cooker pot with the cider, bay leaves, cinnamon stick and cloves. Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours. In the oven, cook for 150C for 4 hours.
- When the ham is done, remove to a large bowl and discard the cooking liquid. Use two forks to pull the meat into chunks – don’t absolutely shred it, moderate sized chunks. Stir through as much piccalilli as you dare. Taste and adjust seasoning – a drop of honey may help sweeten things, you probably won’t need any additional salt.
- Lay a few spoonfuls of the mixture as the edge of the pastry and push into a neat line – as you would with sausage meat in a sausage roll. The exact thickness of the filling is totally up to you. Roll over itself, gently pressing to distribute the mixture and seal the pastry. Slice the roll off and repeat until you are out of pastry.
- Cut into individual portions – I usually half it until I have 8 from each roll-up. Transfer to a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. Paint with a little beaten egg (I also used sesame seeds to garnish) and bake at 180C for 15-20 minutes, until the rolls are sufficiently golden.
These are good to eat hot or cold and will keep for a good few days in the fridge.