ham & beer & vegetables & gravy

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Xmas is finally coming – mightily.

I always try to ignore the early – very early, far too early – signs of Xmas starting to appear about mid of September. It’s mainly in your trusted food store & other shops where suddenly there are shelves filled w/ Xmas cookies, gingerbread, Xmas chocolate, chocolate Santas, Advent calendars … I never can deal w/ this when it’s about 25° C outside having a brilliant autumn day.


For the record:
Regardless I never can resist to buy my 1st panettone, of course, latest in October …


The food bloggers’ universe starts – as a rule – posting recipes of Xmas cookies etc. in November. I admit that starting baking for Xmas will take its time & that it is sometimes stressful when only a week to Xmas Eve is left & the baking ingredients pile up in your kitchen. Nevertheless my experience always was that the earlier there are delicious Xmas cookies chilling in a fancy jar the faster they are gone – vanishing into thin air.

So now it’s December & I think it’s appropriate to post some ideas about Xmas. (Xmas cookies are planned to be made soon …)

Shit happens: it’s still Corona times. So many a get-together before Xmas or during the festive season  was cancelled or will be cancelled soon … Therefore: Do we need some recipe for a big roast w/ lots of trimmings & a marvelous dessert?


For the record:
In Germany it’s tradition to have a roast goose w/ dumplings … sometimes it’s also a duck or a turkey. This year (as always!) I don’t plan to enter the vast & dangerous field of how to prepare the most traditional resp. most delicious resp. most succulent Xmas bird w/ all the possible trimmings, if tradional, if fashionable, if minimalistic, if overpowering.


In spite of Corona times there might be small get-togethers w/ the need & the opportunity to prepare a proper meal. So I thought about it … & got the idea of preparing a ham, a real big ham. I started browsing my cookbooks & … yes! I found an excellent recipe in Meike Peters’ new cookbook 365 (which I adapted slightly for my ham adventure!).



These are some fine slices of ham w/ a winterly – almost Xmas like – flavor, tender & juicy. All comes accompanied by a rich gravy … & you may decide about vegetables, baked potatoes, dumplings, pasta or whatever you like to go w/ the ham.

It will be fine for a dinner of 4 or 6 or … If there are leftovers you may just reheat them in your microwave or feast on exceptional sandwiches.

Now. I think, it’s time to start …

What do we need?



For cooking the ham:

  • a big chunk of cured ham w/ skin on
  • carrots
  • a big sweet potato
  • shallots
  • salt & ground cloves
  • star anises
  • sweet French mustard

… & for the background:

  • Bavarian beer
  • stock from roast.

What to do now?

Grab your slow cooker & start filling the pot.

Mix the salt & the ground cloves & rub it all over the ham. Place the ham in the slow cooker & add 3 star anises.



Trim & peel the vegetables & cut them into pieces. Put everything around the ham.



Add the Bavarian beer & the stock from roast & some dabs of sweet mustard. (Unfortunately you cannot see the beer-stock-mix in the photo – it’s on the bottom of the pot.



Afterwards mix everything in the slow cooker. Especially the star anises should get into the liquid!

Now close the lid & start your slow cooker (high temperature setting). For the next 6 hours or so there isn’t anything to do about the ham … just wait. The slow cooker will do its duty.

About 6 hours later just lift the ham out of the slow cooker. Be careful – the ham is soft & tender! Let it rest for 10-15 min before cutting into slices (or whatever you’ve intended to do!).


What now?
Show time for the gravy!

To begin w/: it’s absolutely necessary to eliminate the star anises – just pick them out of the liquid & discard them.

Pour all the liquid including the vegetables in a suitable pot. Then grab your handheld electric blender determinedly & start blending. All the vegetables are very soft & will dissolve at once. Take care that no lumps remain. The resulting pre-gravy – rich beer, sweet mustard, sweet vegetables, spicy onions & the juice of the ham – is very intense in flavor!

For getting a decent gravy add some more stock from roast, jus of roast, cream, some more sweet mustard … & bring it to a boil. Add starch dissolved in cold water to thicken the gravy.

In my recipe I listed the amounts of additional ingredients for creating the gravy, but it’s up to you how you like your gravy. Maybe you need some more stock from roast or some more cream to cut back the intense flavor. Just do it – until the result is fine for you.


For the record:
I bought stock from roast at my trusted food store. It’s also possible to create your own stock from roast – it’s merely a time issue. The same is valid for jus of roast, resp. demi-glace, although preparing your own jus of roast might get challenging.


You’ll see that there is a lot of gravy … more than you’ll need for serving once. So pour some of the gravy into appropriate containers & freeze the gravy. It’s fine after defrosting & reheating.





ham & beer & vegetables & gravy
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time6 hours
Servings: 8 (or more!)
for the cured ham:
  • 1.8 kg cured ham (at least: 1.5 kg)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp ground cloves
for the pot:
  • 4 red onions/shallots (about 200 g b4 trimming)
  • 1 sweet potato (about 250 g b4 trimming)
  • 2 carrots (about 450 g b4 trimming)
  • 500 ml Bavarian beer
  • 200 ml stock from roast
  • 3 star anises
  • 2 tbsp sweet mustard
for the gravy:
  • 2 tbsp roast jus (about 2 small cups/cans)
  • 1 tbsp sweet mustard
  • 200 ml stock from roast
  • 100 ml cream (or even more!)
  • 1 tsp starch (dissolved in some cold water) (or more)
  • slow cooker
  • handheld electric blender
how to:
  • Mix the ground cloves & salt; rub the mess all over the cured ham.
  • Put the cured ham & the ingredients for the pot in the slow cooker & cook for about 6 h at high temperature (pls refer/adjust to settings of your slow cooker).
  • Save the ham onto a plate & let it rest for about 10-15 min.
  • Pour all the liquid & the cooked vegetables in a pot; discard the star anises. Blend it w/ your handheld electric blender into an almost creamy mess.
  • Add the ingredients for the gravy (except of the starch) & bring it to a boil. Add the starch dissolved in cold water to thicken the gravy.
Allow about 10-15 min in addition for finalizing the gravy (i. e. not included in Prep Time!).
You may store the slow-cooked ham in your fridge for several days. Just reheat in your microwave. (You may also enjoy it cold & thinly sliced in a sandwich!)
Sorry: no experience w/ freezing the ham resp slices of ham!
You'll get a lot of gravy - more than you may need for a dinner resp. lunch. You may store the surplus of gravy in your freezer. Remember to portion the gravy according to your future plans.


(information on equipment)



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keep it simple. be flexible. always.