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Sunday 9 January 2011

Waitrose Easy To Cook: Gammon Steaks with a Chunky Pineapple & Mango Salsa

Just so you know, it really was the name that attracted me: "Easy To Cook"? How could I refuse? Plus it had actually been a while since I'd last had a gammon steak, so I felt I deserved to sample it. Each pack comes with two gammon steaks and the corresponding quantity of salsa, so it's not a meal for one by any stretch of the imagination.

The blurb on the unusual packaging claims:
"Our Easy to Cook range brings you the unbeatable freshness and flavours of home cooking, but saves your valuable time shopping, chopping, cutting and peeling. We've carefully combined uncooked raw ingredients, using Waitrose meat, poultry and fish from our selected producers and dedicated farmer groups we work in partnership with, ensuring the highest standards of quality, animal welfare and traceability. You'll find a huge choice from over 70 dishes, all made with specially selected cuts of meat, poultry and fish producing full flavoured, tasty dishes. Whatever your choice, you can sit back and savour the tempting aromas, Look out for our seasonal recipes which change throughout the year. What could be simpler?"

And, you know what? For a penny shy of £4, this makes for a truly excellent centrepiece for a main course. All you'd need to add is a bit of veg and some form of potato, be it boiled, roasted or just plain old chips. The packaging suggests serving with "a crisp green salad", but that seems a little anaemic. I guess the idea is to counterpoint the good, thick gammon steak (not overly burdened with fatty parts, I might add - excellent stuff, Waitrose) with something light and healthy... I guess I'm just set in my ways, having had many a meal of gammon-and-pineapple with chips, peas and corn over over the years.

True to the instructions on the packaging, this takes a mere 20 minutes to cook - the first ten minutes being for the meat alone, the final ten are following the addition of the sachet of salsa. I was pretty much expecting the salsa to thicken up and go gummy, possibly forming a glaze over the meat, but it stays nice and liquid... possibly too liquid, in fact. While it tasted wonderful - it is essentially a chunky sweet-and-sour - the chunks didn't really stay with the sauce they were floating in... If anything, the liquid got thinner in the oven. Still, the meat was not excessively salty (as is often the case with gammon - again, well done, Waitrose), and the flavours of both the pineapple and the mango remained distinct within the salsa, along with the mild spiciness of the chilli. I would say there's even a reasonably strong undertone of ginger, thanks to the purée that forms part of the salsa. Something thicker would have been preferable, for me, but the overall effect is pretty special, and I'll certainly pick one of these up next time I'm cooking for two. The box even goes so far as to make a wine recommendation...

One suggestion I would make for cooking is that, while the instructions just say to put the steaks onto a baking tray, since you're later adding the salsa, a layer of foil is a prudent addition... that way, you're throwing away some foil rather than spending ages scrubbing your baking tray to remove remnants of the salsa.


  1. The instructions say to put the ALUMINIUM TRAY with the steaks onto a baking tray. AbsolutelyNO washing up.

    1. Hi Anonymous Commentator, thanks for dropping in!

      There are (at least) two ways of looking at this:
      1) The post you've commented on here is over three years old, so there's a chance that the instructions have been changed since I posted this.
      2) I misread the instructions and made my life a teeny-tiny bit more complicated for as long as it took me to cook dinner one evening. Big deal.

      Actually, you know what, there's easily a third option here: I didn't read the instructions at all... I frequently don't, as I'm generally confident enough to get by knowing the time/temperature settings.

      Bottom line: I've never claimed to be the best or most sensible operator in the kitchen... in fact, if you've read any more that this one post, you may have picked up on that. This blog is not - never has been, never will be - about perfection. It's about learning to cook and learning to enjoy cooking... and, evidently, part of that epic journey involves learning to read the instructions thoroughly.