Boxing Day Leftovers – Gammon Pretzel Rolls with Pineapple Relish

Words: Karl Tessendorf

For most people, the year-end is an exciting time of summer holidays, family gatherings, yada yada, blahdy blah – gammon. Yes, gammon. To be more precise, gammon pretzel roll. That’s the only reason it’s an exciting time. Sweet, sweet, sweet gammon. The porkiest of pork. The royal swine. The holiest of hogs. If you haven’t already gathered, I am a gammon fiend. A skilled gammon hunter of the highest order and my friends… hunting season has just opened.

If I had to sum it up, the thing I love most about gammon (besides everything) is leftovers. I have a large family, so come Christmas time, we are all assigned a meat to cook for the feast. I have the honour of doing the gammon and I usually do two. Why? Because why not. Leftover gammon is good on just about anything, even old flip flops, but few things can compete with a freshly baked pretzel roll and a sweet and spicy pineapple relish.

In my opinion, pretzel rolls are the Ferrari of rolls. Fresh out the oven they’re crispy on the outside and soft in the middle. They’ve got a beautiful chewy pull to them and that salty, pretzely flavour is enough tempt even the most wheat intolerant. The thing that gives pretzels that distinctive colour and chewiness is a bath in bicarb of soda before baking. It has to do with alkaline levels and science stuff, but all you need to know is: bicarb bath = tasty pretzel.

Everyone has their preferred way of eating gammon and for me it has to be with pineapple and cherries. The result is an S&M fruit studded dish that looks like it arrived in Back to the Future’s Delorean, but it just works. The sweetness of the fruit bounces off the saltiness of the meat, and a gammon just wouldn’t be the same without it. My twist on this classic is a sexy, spicy pineapple relish to top your 50 shades of pork sarmie. You could also add fresh cherries to this recipe but I couldn’t find any at the time.

When building the perfect gammon pretzel roll, there are two ways to go about it. You can either go for hefty slices or layers of thin shavings. The pretzel rolls are best fresh out the oven with thick slabs of butter of course. For extra zing I recommend a good quality, whole grain mustard and for greenery, a little peppery rocket will do nicely. Consider this sarmie your silly season mission. Should you choose to accept it, I leave you with this food for thought. When you’re standing in front of the gammon fridge at the shop, remember these words: is one gammon really enough?

Holiest of Hogs Gammon Pretzel Roll

Yields: 12 rolls
Difficulty: moderate
Prep time: 2 ½ hours
Cooking time: 1 hour

Pretzel Rolls

1 ½ C (375 ml) lukewarm full cream milk
1 ½ C (375 ml) lukewarm water
2 Tbsp (30 ml) sunflower or canola oil
2 tsp (10 ml) salt
1 packet (10 g) instant yeast
7 C (980 g) white bread flour
a little butter, for greasing the bowl
a little extra oil, for brushing the dough
2 litres water

Bicarb Bath
¼ C bicarb of soda
1 Tbsp (15 ml) brown sugar
coarse sea salt for garnish

Pineapple & Pepper Relish

1 large red pepper, charred
1 large pineapple peeled and sliced
1 medium red onion, diced
1 jalapeno, finely chopped (add more if preferred)
1 handful chopped chives
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tsp (5 ml) ginger, finely chopped
juice of 2 limes
salt and pepper to taste

To Assemble

generous shavings or slices of left over festive gammon
handful of rocket leaves
wholegrain mustard

Pretzel Rolls

Mix the water and milk together in a glass bowl and then microwave until lukewarm. It shouldn’t be steaming, just warm (around 40 °C). Pour the mixture into a larger mixing bowl (make sure it’s large enough as the dough will double in size as it proves). Add the oil, salt and yeast. Add 3 cups of flour and combine with a wooden spoon. Add the other 4 cups of flour, then using your hands work the dough until it comes together.

When the mixture forms a dough, turn it out on to a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 minutes. The dough should have a stiff, yet soft consistency and should not be too sticky. Rinse and clean the mixing bowl and then grease it with butter. Plop the dough back into the bowl and brush the top with a little extra oil. Cover with a wet tea towel and leave in a warm spot for 2 hours to prove. The dough should double in size.

Portion the dough into twelve pieces before rolling. Make sure the kitchen counter is clean; if there is any residual flour on the counter it makes it difficult to roll the rolls. The rolls need to tack to the surface so they come together as they are formed. Take a portion of dough and place a cupped hand over it. The idea is to keep your pinky finger on the surface at all times and make a fast clockwise motion with your cupped hand.

As you rotate you will feel the dough come together into a ball. If the dough is sliding around and not coming together, try rubbing a little butter onto the surface. This will help it tack. You should get a perfectly round dough ball with a pucker on the bottom. Space the rolls out on a sheet of baking paper and cover with a wet tea towel for 20 minutes to further prove. The dough will expand so ensure there is room in between them. At this point preheat the oven to 210 °C.

Now its time to give the rolls a bath. Put the bicarb, brown sugar and water into a large saucepan. Bring to the boil, and then working in batches of two to three, boil the rolls for 30 seconds each side. Use a slotted spoon to remove and drain the rolls, then place onto a tray lined with baking paper. Using a seriously sharp knife or even an NT cutter, slice an X into the top of the rolls. Try not to deflate the balls when you do this. Sprinkle some sugar and coarse sea salt over the rolls and place in the oven to bake for 20 minutes. Keep an eye on them, and remove when you are happy with the colour.

gammon pretzel
gammon pretzel

Pineapple & Pepper Relish

Over medium-hot coals char the skin of the red peppers. Remove from the heat and place into a plastic packet to sweat for 10 minutes.
Braai the pineapple slices for about 2-3 minutes a side until they have caramelised and have distinctive grill marks. Set aside to cool.
Peel the skin off the peppers, dice and then throw into a mixing bowl.
Dice the pineapple and add to the bowl.
Add the rest of the ingredients, mix well and season to taste. Cover the relish and leave it in the fridge so that all the flavours can get to know each other.

To Assemble

Slice the pretzel rolls and allow to cool slightly. Butter and spread with a good dollop of wholegrain mustard. Pile generously with slices of gammon and top with fresh pineapple and red pepper relish and rocket. Serve with an ice-cold beer and there you have it, a delicious gammon pretzel roll.

gammon pretzel

Loved this recipe? See more festive inspiration with these roasts, sides and desserts.

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