“It was wonderful, of course – ham with mustard is a meal of glory.”

-Dodie Smith, I Capture The Castle


Gammon is a particularly good choice to offer over Christmas. The joint can feed many, and anything left over comes in useful for instant lunches for days to come – with baked potatoes in their jackets, with coleslaw, and finally, you can use the remaining shreds of it in a salad of avocado and baby corn.

One of the best ways of cooking gammon is the absolute cinch, and now-famous, Nigella Lawson method which involves cooking it in Coca-Cola. Go here for the link to her recipe, and here for the reason to use M & S cola in preference to The Real Thing.

In any case, from time to time it’s good to ring the changes, so this is an alternative method. If the joint comes with crackling you may wish to make the crackling separately.


Recipe for ham cooked in ginger ale, molasses and mustard

Serves 8-10


  • 6 lb/2.7 Kg joint of gammon
  • 1 litre/1.8 pints of Canada Dry ginger ale (Canada Dry make the least sweet and cloying of the commonly available ginger ales… you don’t want to fiddle about with fancy makes like Fever Tree for cooking)
  • 3 generous tbsps grainy mustard
  • you could also add a couple of tablespoons each of black treacle and golden syrup if you have it to hand.


  1. Cook the gammon for an hour and a half in water – bring to the boil first, then simmer. Reserve the liquid to use to cook any vegetables you may wish to serve with it (don’t add salt).
  2. Drain it, cool it, smear all over with the mustard (or a mix of mustard, black treacle and golden syrup)  and leave to marinate in the ginger ale overnight.
  3. Heat your oven to 180°C and cook the joint again for another hour.



I Capture The Castle is one of my favourite books – unfortunately the film is a bit soppy …  but the film score is very calming to listen to as you smear and pour.