Cured Ham and Asparagus Great British Food Revival


Cured Ham and Asparagus

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-This is the Great British Food Revival.

-We are flying the flag and campaigning...

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To save some of our truly unique...

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Totally delicious...

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-Succulent...

-Formidable...

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Home-grown produce.

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Ooh, it's cold!

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Many are teetering on the brink of survival.

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We need you to help us...

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To resurrect these classic heritage ingredients.

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I'm loving it. I could stay out here all day.

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Join us now before it's too late.

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-Can you give us a whoop?

-Whoo!

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Some things are really worth fighting for.

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Ah, delicious.

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Ever since I got my first taste of this great British product,

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I've been a massive, massive fan.

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The fact is, it's been a staple on British plates for centuries.

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It's graced many a Christmas table

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and it's a British institution through and through.

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At one time we spent months making and nurturing it

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in our own homes.

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But nowadays we're eating more processed, manufactured varieties

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and we're in a real danger of losing a great British cottage industry.

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My name's Tom Kerridge, and I'm here to inspire you.

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So, come on, people of Great Britain,

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rally around and get behind me

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and let's put great British cured ham back where it belongs.

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In pride of place.

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Reconstituted ham is so popular with British shoppers

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it's pushing British cured ham off our supermarket shelves.

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So, in my campaign to revive this forgotten British staple,

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I'll be showing you exactly what's in the ham

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that you put in your sandwiches.

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Reformed ham, cured and cooked with not more than 20% added water.

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I mean you can hear that. That's just horrific.

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Ladies and gentlemen, roll up...

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I'll be taking my crusade to the streets of Northampton

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with a ham sandwich extravaganza.

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This is the processed square cubes of ham.

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That's the ham that she just spat out.

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If that doesn't prove something I don't know what does.

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And I'll rustle up some tasty recipes

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using the best of British cured ham.

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Wow, that is proper lush.

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I grew up in a single-parent household

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and money was always tight.

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My mum used to send us off to school with ham sandwiches,

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but it was always that processed, square ham,

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fitted perfectly into the slices of bread.

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But then, at Christmas, that kind of all changed

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and my mum would get some really great British cured hams

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and the flavour of that was absolutely stunning.

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I believe it's becoming hard to find proper British cured ham

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on the high street.

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So I'm doing a little detective work.

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OK, so I have a whole range of hams here.

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Everything from your local butchers, local high street shops,

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supermarkets.

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As much of a range as I could find. British breaded ham.

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Farmed from selected cuts of pork legs.

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So, selected cuts of pork leg. Cured, cooked and breaded.

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With no added water. Actually, the smell when you open this packet...

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It just kind of... It smells as if it's quite sweaty.

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Not very good. Bright orange breadcrumbs.

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Again, for me, bright orange breadcrumbs

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are not something that...

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you know, I don't know what bread that comes from but when you dry it

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and make it bright orange, I'm not sure about that one.

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This is the ham of my childhood.

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This is made from pork from the EU and America,

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and then it's cured and cooked and packed in the UK.

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This is awful. This is... Ha.

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Ha ha! It smells disgusting.

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Someone, somewhere, is putting these in their sandwiches.

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You know who you are. Stop it now.

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Reformed ham.

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Cured and cooked with not more than 20% added water.

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I mean, look at that. That is just horrific.

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I'm going to squeeze the whole thing and we'll see...

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Any...

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..water.

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I mean you can hear that. Can you hear that?

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That's just horrific.

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This ham comes from a deli counter in a supermarket.

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That, for me...

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Now we're beginning to talk about real meat.

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That's not so bad.

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There is some good ham out there in supermarkets.

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Some of this is actually quite a good-quality product.

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But the market is massively dominated by the processed

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square or round ham.

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We buy millions of pounds' worth of reconstituted ham every year.

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Far more than British cured ham and I want to find out why.

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Tell me the truth of which one that you would buy and take home.

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-I probably do buy that one for the kids.

-Any reason?

-The square one.

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Just cos they like the look of it.

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-Square one. Square one...

-It's a treat, that one.

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-And as a treat, that one.

-Yeah.

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Be honest with me, chaps, right. No honestly, be honest with me.

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Which one of these is in your fridge at home?

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The crumbed one.

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The crumbed one. What about the square one?

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Yeah, I've got some of those.

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-This stuff here. Not this stuff here.

-No.

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What's the reason why you choose this over this?

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-I don't do the shopping.

-My mum buys it.

-HE LAUGHS

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Wafer-thin ham.

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Why do you like the wafer-thin ham? Is it the flavour?

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Yeah, I mean... If I go to the fridge and open the pack,

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I just eat the whole packet.

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Really, really interesting findings today, right across the board.

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But people are still buying the square ham, the teddy bear ham.

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My mission is to get rid of that stuff and to convince everybody

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to start using and cooking with

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and eating great British cured hams.

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To inspire you to ham it up in your kitchen,

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I'm going to show you just how good it tastes.

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I've got a delicious first recipe.

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Get that ham ready.

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OK, this is what I'm talking about.

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This is the stunning ham that I remember as a child.

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The Christmas Day ham.

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Something that we'd only have on that one special occasion.

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And this is what I'm going to use for my first recipe.

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It's a cured ham and pea broth.

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OK, for this recipe, I've got a nice thick slice of ham.

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This is the sort of thing you can get from your butcher's,

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or supermarkets or a deli counter.

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Nice and thick.

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I'm going to dice it up to start.

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Quite nice big chunks.

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Most of us have heard of ham and pea soup

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but I'm adding an Asian twist to this classic combination.

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Begin by heating honey in a pan until caramelises

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and then add soy sauce.

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About the same amount volume-weight as the honey

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and what happens is that the soy sauce and the honey caramelise

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and come together and give a beautiful, beautiful flavour.

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And then on top of that I'm going to pour some really good chicken stock

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or some ham stock.

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This delicate broth goes brilliantly with cured ham.

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It's the perfect summer dish, using home-grown ingredients,

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and in my recipe, nothing goes to waste.

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So to go with it we're going to have peas.

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Now, the peas here... They're peas from the pod.

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So, we're just going to pod.

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Keep the peas, but most importantly, we keep the pods.

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Now, into this broth. I've turned the heat right down.

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I'm going to put in the pea pods.

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These are all the shelled pea pods...

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And there is so much flavour in them.

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Put them all in there, warts and all.

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Rubber band. Maybe not the rubber band.

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And cover the stock and leave the pea pods to do their work.

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Then, to really zing your taste buds,

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take some chopped spring onions, green chillies

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and some fresh mint leaves.

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I'm looking for as much minty flavour as possible.

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Then pass the stock through a sieve.

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Take a handful of ham and some cooked peas

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and finish with the raw onion, chilli and mint.

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Small little sprinkling of the green chillies.

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Or if like me, you like them, two sprinklings of green chillies.

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Some of the teared-up mint.

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So, you can see all the beautiful freshness of flavour

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beginning to come through.

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A nice ladle.

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We're going to put a ladleful of this beautiful pea-infused broth

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over the top.

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To finish, I've got an Asian twist on another great British ingredient.

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I deep-fry some finely chopped cabbage

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and sprinkle on top of my delicious broth.

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And there you have it. My cured ham and pea broth.

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Wow, absolutely stunning.

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There's such a beautiful freshness of flavour coming through there.

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But the overriding taste is the ham. It's stunning.

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Just a small, little amount has gone such a long way.

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Absolutely stunning.

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For me, a cured ham isn't just a delicious food.

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It's a celebration of a great heritage

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that's been part of our culture for centuries.

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Historically, as human beings, we're a really clever bunch

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and we realised the need to cure food and preserve it.

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Up until the end of the Second World War,

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it wasn't uncommon for families to own their own pigs.

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Rear them and fatten them up during the summer

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and then, you know, preserve them and cure them for the winter.

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But this type of home-curing is a dying craft,

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overtaken by mass food production

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which sacrifices quality for quantity.

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I've come to Devon to meet Anne Petch, one of the few

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remaining artisan makers of traditional British cured ham.

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Right, come and have a look in the fridge.

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We've got pork and pigs hanging up.

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Oh, fantastic.

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This pig's been reared locally.

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They come from Winkleigh, just over the way,

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because I've retired from active pig farming myself, now.

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You can see that there's a natural line around there

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and that's where we're going to cut for the ham.

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So, the ham is from there to there.

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Anne has been home-curing for 35 years.

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Its takes up to a month to turn a raw pork leg into a finished ham.

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It's a terrific thing, because you've got something

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that's a large joint that will feed lots of people.

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It's very easy to serve.

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You can have it hot or you can have it cold,

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and it's really, really versatile.

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Now, I have got a question.

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These trimmings here, that got cut off, now...

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Is this the stuff that then gets called ham in the square packets?

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Well, that's rather posh, to go into that sort of thing.

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I mean it's a trimming but this is still deemed as too good

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-and too expensive...

-Yeah.

-To go into square packet ham.

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Reconstituted ham is made from various off-cuts.

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The addition of emulsifiers and additives help it to reform.

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But Anne's technique dates back thousands of years.

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Go back to Neolithic times,

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the preoccupation of man was to actually feed his family through

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the winter, so it's no good killing a woolly mammoth one month

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and expecting it to last you all through the winter, because it won't.

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You have to cure the meat and preserve it in some way.

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As far as I know there's two types of cure.

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There's a wet cure and a dry cure.

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What do you do here?

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We use a traditional Devonshire wet cure.

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In the brine, there, we've got salt and a tiny amount of saltpetre.

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Saltpetre is the thing that actually makes it safe.

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It combats botulism,

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which is a horrible thing to get into cured meat

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and was a scourge years and years ago, but doesn't happen these days.

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The wet cure preserves and flavours the ham by a process called osmosis.

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The salt penetrates the meat, draws out the moisture

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and stops any bacteria growing.

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OK, so gently put that in. Every day,

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what we do is take the weights off,

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when we've got a tank full of these, and we turn them over

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and that happens every day that they're in here.

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-OK, brilliant. That's my first Devonshire cured ham.

-Yay!

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In its brine.

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The ham is wet cured for 10 days and hung for a further 20 days

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to mature the meat before being cooked in Anne's special marinade.

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We've got brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves.

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I'll tell you what, Anne, this is almost good enough to drink.

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It smells fantastic, doesn't it?

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The marinade helps to give the ham a fantastic flavour

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and texture that you just can't find in reconstituted ham.

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It smells absolutely stunning. Honestly. I am almost speechless.

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That is just a stunning piece of ham. It tastes...

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Like you say, there's no big flavours or anything going through it.

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It just tastes porky.

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This really is what great British producers are about.

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This really is a fantastic, artisan, amazing cured ham.

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We really, really need to keep pushing this

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and saving these small cottage industries.

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These guys really need our help and this food is fantastic.

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Sadly, there aren't many artisan producers like Anne left.

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It takes time to cure ham this way, with love and dedication,

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but it means her product is more expensive.

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Supermarkets want high volume for low cost

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and Anne just can't compete.

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So, is it possible to find quality British cured ham

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in the supermarket?

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And would it be the same standard as Anne's?

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I've come to a more commercial ham producer in Northampton to find out.

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Well, essentially we've been in business now nearly 30 years

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and we've got to the point from just doing 20-odd hams a week,

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really, when we started, we're probably doing 2,500 now.

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-2,500 hams a week.

-Yeah, yeah.

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That's incredible.

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Nigel Wagstaff's business makes ham for major caterers

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and top-end supermarkets.

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He uses a modern shortcut curing method to meet the high-volume demand.

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What's going on here, then?

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Well this is our, um...

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Curing room, as you can see. It's fairly self-explanatory.

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-So, what's happening? The hams are going in here?

-Yeah.

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-They're getting injected there.

-Yeah.

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-And dropping down...

-Dropping into the container there.

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And then the brine is being pumped through the machine.

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Through the machine.

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And then being re-used, so anything that runs off...

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Yeah you can just see it going back into the tray,

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then it goes through a filter.

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The injecting-machine speeds up the curing process.

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An artisan ham-maker takes four weeks to produce a finished ham

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but, this way, it only takes a week.

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But do modern techniques result in a good product?

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What's it taste like? Shall we try a little bit?

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Yeah, please do.

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The texture of it feels great, actually.

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It's a very good ham.

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-That is a good ham.

-Good.

-It tastes quite dry.

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A nice, aged, nice ham. It's a very good product.

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For me, this is quite a difficult one,

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because as a chef I'm always trying to find the best produce

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I can find, and cook it the best possible way

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and I want to encourage you to get out there

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and use those artisan producers.

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The guys that are working tirelessly to make fantastic hams.

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But what Nigel's got here is British produce. British hams.

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If you can't find the artisan ham producer near you,

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get out there, find it on the supermarket shelves

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and use stuff like Nigel's.

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It's producers like Nigel and Anne who are keeping

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the spirit of cured ham alive for generations to come

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and we need to support them.

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And my next recipe is a personal homage to them.

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A celebration of everything I love about British food.

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So, this next recipe,

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well, it's a play on the classic family favourite.

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It's ham, fried duck egg and triple-cooked chips.

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If you don't like this I'll be proper surprised,

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because it is well lush.

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I guarantee you will have one very happy family

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once you've made it the Tom Kerridge way.

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So, this is the ham that has come from Anne.

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Cooked in her old ham boiler.

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Slow cooked it.

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And it looks like she's done an amazing job.

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OK. We're going to take a big chunk off here.

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We just want a prime cut of ham, just for this dish.

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Now we're going to take a slice.

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This one slice of ham, this is perfect.

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This is like the ultimate in exquisite ham, egg and chips.

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So, we've taken the prime piece of ham

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through the middle of the leg with all the layers of muscle

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and the small piece of fat running through the middle

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to keep it nice and moist and juicy.

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And then you've got a lovely outer layer of the ham fat

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that gives it so much flavour.

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This dish works just as well using ham sliced by your local butcher,

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or sold at the supermarket deli.

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Just make sure it's British. It really does make a difference.

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Especially when served with my culinary secret weapon.

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My ultimate recipe for the perfect chip.

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OK, to go with the ham we're going to have triple-cooked chips

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and what you need is very good potatoes.

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Now this is a Marquis potato

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but you could also use something like a Maris Piper.

0:18:100:18:13

You generally want them to be unwashed.

0:18:130:18:16

If they're washed, they contain too much water

0:18:160:18:18

and you won't be able to get them nice and crispy.

0:18:180:18:21

And here's my top chip tip.

0:18:210:18:23

Cut your chips to a similar size,

0:18:230:18:25

then they'll all finish cooking at the same time.

0:18:250:18:28

I start by blanching them for about five minutes.

0:18:280:18:32

OK, once they've boiled,

0:18:320:18:34

you drain them off and they look a little bit like this.

0:18:340:18:38

So they've got that nice little powdery crust around the outside

0:18:380:18:41

and they're ready for their first fry.

0:18:410:18:43

And you fry them at 140 degrees until they look like this.

0:18:430:18:48

So, all of that fluffy outside has gone to a nice little crisp.

0:18:480:18:52

And then you leave them.

0:18:520:18:53

You can even leave them for a day or two in the fridge,

0:18:530:18:56

until you need them.

0:18:560:18:57

You won't taste a more crunchy and fluffy chip than this.

0:18:570:19:00

But before I finish them off, I prepare my ham and egg.

0:19:000:19:03

Pan-fry the ham on each side in butter before frying a duck egg.

0:19:030:19:08

Yes, you heard right.

0:19:080:19:10

Now, the reason we're using duck egg...

0:19:100:19:13

Is solely...

0:19:130:19:15

Because it's just a little richer.

0:19:150:19:18

A little bit more indulgent.

0:19:180:19:20

Just something, perhaps, taking that everyday, normal

0:19:200:19:23

kind of classic dish that we're looking at here,

0:19:230:19:26

ham, egg and chips, but making it into something so, so special.

0:19:260:19:29

The best ham.

0:19:290:19:31

The best duck egg you can find and most definitely the best chips.

0:19:310:19:35

And what's the final stage for the best chips ever?

0:19:350:19:38

So, the chips now go into the fryer until they're really nice

0:19:380:19:41

and crispy.

0:19:410:19:43

I bet you can taste them already.

0:19:430:19:45

I plate up my ham and duck egg with a parsley garnish

0:19:450:19:48

which gives enough time for my chips to turn into heaven.

0:19:480:19:51

Triple-cooked chips, into a bowl. Did you hear that crunch?

0:19:530:19:58

A tiny little bit of seasoning...

0:19:580:20:00

..and then we'll put a few of these...on the plate.

0:20:010:20:04

How good does that look?

0:20:110:20:13

We have ham with fried duck egg and triple-cooked chips.

0:20:130:20:18

You don't get more British than this feast. What a treat.

0:20:200:20:24

I guarantee you'll never buy a frozen chip or

0:20:240:20:26

a pack of square ham again.

0:20:260:20:29

I can't wait to taste this. It looks amazing.

0:20:290:20:32

Wow, three simple ingredients.

0:20:500:20:53

That is proper lush.

0:20:530:20:55

I really want traditional cured ham to be top of your shopping list,

0:21:010:21:04

so I'm taking my campaign to the streets of Britain to show

0:21:040:21:08

everyone what they're missing.

0:21:080:21:10

So, if I need to convince the people of Great Britain to

0:21:100:21:12

swap their reconstituted ham for a more traditional great British

0:21:120:21:17

cured ham, I really need to inspire them.

0:21:170:21:20

So, I'm here, bringing my campaign to Northampton and hopefully spreading

0:21:200:21:25

and sharing the love of this ham and this great British product.

0:21:250:21:29

One of my favourite ways to enjoy ham is

0:21:300:21:32

slapped between two pieces of bread, and I'm not the only one.

0:21:320:21:37

In Britain today,

0:21:370:21:38

the most-made sandwich, at home, is the ham sandwich.

0:21:380:21:42

So, I'm here today to do a little ham sandwich taste test.

0:21:420:21:46

Reconstituted ham dominates the market.

0:21:480:21:51

We put it in our sandwiches and even in our kids' lunchboxes.

0:21:510:21:55

And it's time to change. I'm going to start a ham revolution.

0:21:550:21:59

Here, I have the samples of ham and ham sandwiches.

0:22:010:22:05

So, this is the traditional cured artisan British ham

0:22:050:22:10

and this is the one, I hope, the tray will be empty by the end of the day.

0:22:100:22:14

Then we have the mid-ranged cured ham.

0:22:140:22:16

The one that is, er, maybe a little bit more manufactured.

0:22:160:22:21

And then at the end here, I'm hoping that this stack of sandwiches...

0:22:210:22:25

stays exactly as it is, because this is the processed square cubes of ham.

0:22:270:22:35

Ladies and gentleman, roll up. Free ham sandwiches. Free ham sandwiches.

0:22:350:22:40

Come on. Come and taste it. Three different types of ham.

0:22:400:22:43

But are the shoppers here prepared to break their bad ham habits?

0:22:430:22:47

I want you to taste test. There's a sample there, sample there,

0:22:490:22:51

sample there and the best sample that you find, take the sandwich.

0:22:510:22:55

It's free. Take it away. Enjoy it.

0:22:550:22:58

That one.

0:22:580:22:59

This one you think is the best?

0:22:590:23:01

Well, then you can have a ham sandwich.

0:23:010:23:03

There's absolutely no competition, is there?

0:23:030:23:06

Fantastic.

0:23:060:23:07

-That one looks the best anyway.

-Yeah, you can see it, can't you?

0:23:070:23:10

This one doesn't really have any flavour, does it?

0:23:100:23:12

Doesn't taste of anything, does it? The end sandwich is the best.

0:23:120:23:15

Result. That's an absolute result. This is too easy.

0:23:150:23:18

This one looks like the real thing.

0:23:180:23:20

It looks like the real thing. This is music to my ears.

0:23:200:23:23

Good man. Good man. You made the right decision there.

0:23:250:23:27

But what about the sandwiches at the other end of the table?

0:23:270:23:31

This is ham.

0:23:310:23:32

-It is ham, I promise you.

-I don't like it.

0:23:320:23:36

That's the ham that she just spat out, which is the processed

0:23:370:23:41

square ham.

0:23:410:23:43

The smallest piece. Disgusting. Spat it out in the hankie.

0:23:430:23:46

If that doesn't prove something, I don't know what does.

0:23:460:23:49

Give me an honest answer, which one would you buy?

0:23:490:23:51

-This one.

-Tastes the best.

-No, that tastes nicer,

0:23:510:23:54

but it depends on how much money I've got in my purse.

0:23:540:23:57

How much money you've got at the time.

0:23:570:23:58

So, would this be like a special ham at Christmas or something like that?

0:23:580:24:01

-After-payday ham.

-An after-payday ham.

-Yeah.

0:24:010:24:04

I love that. There is a clear leader, already.

0:24:040:24:07

The best artisan ham. There's less than half of the sandwiches left.

0:24:070:24:11

Hardly any of the horrible processed sandwiches have been touched.

0:24:110:24:15

Good man.

0:24:150:24:16

Wrap them in a napkin. Take them away with you.

0:24:160:24:19

Everybody, young and old, are going for the fantastic great-tasting ham.

0:24:190:24:23

-It does taste good.

-Can you get this from supermarkets?

-No, you can't.

0:24:230:24:26

This is a special artisan supplier,

0:24:260:24:28

but if this was near the supermarket,

0:24:280:24:30

or there or at a farm shop or somewhere close to you that

0:24:300:24:33

you could get, would you take that ham over the others?

0:24:330:24:35

-Oh, yeah.

-Yeah, definitely.

0:24:350:24:37

Which one is the best ham? That one. Oh, well.

0:24:370:24:40

You can't win them all.

0:24:400:24:42

Can I shake your hand? What a good thing that you're doing being out in the community

0:24:420:24:45

-doing this for British produce.

-Thank you very much.

-Really, really good.

0:24:450:24:48

The greatest-tasting ham is the one that everybody wants.

0:24:480:24:51

Here, today, the artisan ham, all gone.

0:24:510:24:54

Do you know what I find odd? That this ham is the one that

0:24:550:24:58

sells the most.

0:24:580:25:00

The square ham that nobody wanted to actually try.

0:25:000:25:02

People spat it out and gave it to me in a napkin.

0:25:020:25:06

If that sells the most, why is that still there?

0:25:080:25:11

I'm finding that a little confusing.

0:25:110:25:13

People that have had this ham and loved this ham,

0:25:130:25:16

hopefully today I've convinced them to get rid of this ham,

0:25:160:25:20

ditch it from their fridge and move onto this great stuff here.

0:25:200:25:24

We need to get proper British cured ham back onto our plates.

0:25:270:25:30

It does come at a cost.

0:25:300:25:32

Up to double the price of the cheaper stuff,

0:25:320:25:35

but in my next recipe you'll see how far this ham can go

0:25:350:25:39

and it's a definite cause for a celebration.

0:25:390:25:41

So, my final recipe today, I'm looking at reviving a great British

0:25:430:25:47

ham classic.

0:25:470:25:48

A roast ham in a really celebratory fashion.

0:25:480:25:52

I give to you the great British celebration ham.

0:25:520:25:56

You can't beat it. It's the king of ham dishes.

0:26:000:26:04

Bursting with flavour and perfect for a family gathering.

0:26:040:26:07

I start with a leg of ham that's been slow roasted.

0:26:080:26:12

I'm salivating already.

0:26:120:26:13

I'm going to take a nice sharp knife.

0:26:150:26:17

We're going to score all the way across the ham and then in between

0:26:170:26:21

each diamond or each square that you make, we're going to put a clove in.

0:26:210:26:24

Cloves are very, very good. They're very powerful.

0:26:260:26:30

And they go so well with ham and all sorts of pork.

0:26:300:26:33

It's also very Christmassy.

0:26:330:26:35

Very celebratory, which is exactly what we're looking for.

0:26:350:26:38

This dish is a really economic way to feed a large

0:26:380:26:41

group of people for about £5 a head.

0:26:410:26:45

You're going to get 15-20 portions out of this

0:26:460:26:49

and compare that with a really good turkey or an amazing piece of beef.

0:26:490:26:54

The cost of this is actually a lot less.

0:26:540:26:55

As I'm putting these cloves in here, I've got the smell coming

0:26:550:26:59

up from the roasting tray.

0:26:590:27:01

It's absolutely stunning. You can smell the beautiful ham flavours.

0:27:010:27:06

Really, really making my mouth water.

0:27:060:27:08

You couldn't do this with a packet of sliced ham

0:27:080:27:12

and if you think it doesn't get sweeter than this, then think again.

0:27:120:27:15

One of these squeezy runny honeys.

0:27:150:27:18

I would say all of this and just coat the whole thing.

0:27:180:27:23

How lush is that? This is what I call a celebration.

0:27:230:27:27

So, the beautiful sweetness of the honey goes so, so well with the ham.

0:27:270:27:31

You have the lovely salty, meaty flavour of the ham and then this

0:27:310:27:35

beautiful, caramelised honey and the cloves coming through.

0:27:350:27:39

Absolutely stunning.

0:27:390:27:40

It will be the most sensational piece of roast meat that

0:27:400:27:44

you'll ever see.

0:27:440:27:45

And what could be more traditional than that? I'm in ham heaven.

0:27:450:27:51

I've roasted my ham for about an hour,

0:27:520:27:54

basting it roughly every 10 minutes.

0:27:540:27:57

Wow. Look at that. Absolutely stunning.

0:27:580:28:02

The smell coming from it is amazing.

0:28:020:28:05

You can still smell loads of porky lovely hammy flavours coming off it.

0:28:050:28:10

But also some amazing sweet caramel and the cloves as well, stunning.

0:28:100:28:15

We'll give it one last baste.

0:28:150:28:17

Get that nice and glazed.

0:28:200:28:21

This, you know, is a real thank-you to my mum for introducing me

0:28:210:28:26

to such a stunning, stunning piece of meat.

0:28:260:28:29

Christmas Day, couldn't wait to have it in the evening.

0:28:290:28:32

And even better, Boxing Day, we'd get up and go

0:28:320:28:35

and watch Gloucester play rugby.

0:28:350:28:36

Then get back and have some slices of this, cold, with bubble and squeak.

0:28:360:28:40

Absolutely stunning.

0:28:400:28:42

And does it taste as good as it looks?

0:28:460:28:49

This for me, is the ultimate in British cured ham.

0:28:490:28:53

In true celebratory fashion.

0:28:530:28:56

Do you know what, I can't wait to taste it!

0:28:560:28:59

Wow, that's got such an amazing, deep, beautiful flavour of the meat

0:29:010:29:08

and the salt cure and the honey and the cloves.

0:29:080:29:11

Absolutely fantastic. I think we've done a proper job on that one.

0:29:120:29:16

Hopefully, my recipes have captured your taste buds and inspired you.

0:29:210:29:25

But I also hope that they've encouraged you to

0:29:250:29:28

support my traditional cured ham campaign.

0:29:280:29:31

Guys, it really is worth getting behind me.

0:29:330:29:36

Going out there and finding these artisan producers.

0:29:360:29:39

It's worth every single penny.

0:29:390:29:41

The more you spend, the more flavour you'll get for your money.

0:29:410:29:44

Please, guys, get behind me

0:29:440:29:46

and help Great Britain revive the great British cured ham.

0:29:460:29:51

Next up, another impassioned chef fighting to revive a classic

0:29:520:29:57

British ingredient.

0:29:570:29:58

I'm Monica Galetti, Head Sous Chef at Le Gavroche, a two Michelin

0:30:070:30:10

starred restaurant of Michel Roux.

0:30:100:30:14

You will know me better as the "stern"

0:30:140:30:16

judge on MasterChef: The Professionals.

0:30:160:30:19

And I'm just as demanding when it comes to my produce.

0:30:190:30:22

I like it fresh, seasonal

0:30:220:30:23

and local, which is why I'm flying the flag for our British asparagus.

0:30:230:30:29

In my campaign to convince you that British tastes best, I will reveal

0:30:290:30:34

how some clever undercover work has helped our British asparagus.

0:30:340:30:37

Asparagus lovers, they are going to be so happy to discover this.

0:30:380:30:42

Hope so.

0:30:420:30:43

It's all hands to the pump, and I'm doing my bit.

0:30:450:30:48

Although this is probably the slowest harvest they've ever done.

0:30:480:30:51

SHE LAUGHS

0:30:510:30:52

And in the Revival Kitchen, how to use every single bit of this

0:30:520:30:55

great British vegetable, including those woody ends.

0:30:550:30:58

So, if you're an asparagus fan, or about to be,

0:30:580:31:01

this is a dish for you.

0:31:010:31:02

I grew up in New Zealand,

0:31:100:31:12

but I reckon British asparagus is the best in the world.

0:31:120:31:15

I find that very fresh asparagus has this taste of fresh, sweet peas and

0:31:150:31:21

you just can't equal it to anything else if you can get it locally.

0:31:210:31:25

It's one of my favourite vegetables and I absolutely love it.

0:31:250:31:30

And I'm not the only one.

0:31:300:31:32

In 2010, we spent over £21 million on the stuff, but if you check

0:31:320:31:37

the labels you'll find most of it comes from as far away as Peru. Why?

0:31:370:31:41

Because asparagus in Britain is traditionally

0:31:410:31:44

grown for just eight short weeks.

0:31:440:31:47

As a chef, April is always in my diary.

0:31:470:31:50

It brings a lot of excitement into the kitchen, when the asparagus arrives.

0:31:500:31:54

So, with the season at its peak, I've come to a historic market

0:31:550:31:58

town in Shropshire to seek out this great British ingredient.

0:31:580:32:01

And I've been looking around here and it's all British.

0:32:020:32:05

There's not a single spear of imported asparagus here today.

0:32:050:32:08

But even in this asparagus stronghold,

0:32:080:32:12

greengrocers, like Robin Farmer, import Peruvian asparagus

0:32:120:32:15

out of season to meet our insatiable demand.

0:32:150:32:18

Robin, you've got some wonderful, wonderful British asparagus here.

0:32:180:32:22

Yes, we have, yes.

0:32:220:32:23

This has come in this morning from Quatt by Bridgnorth.

0:32:230:32:26

The quality is really good.

0:32:260:32:28

We do sell some of the imported asparagus at different

0:32:280:32:30

times of the year, but in the English season we only have local asparagus.

0:32:300:32:34

-As it should be.

-Exactly.

0:32:340:32:37

There are customers who demand asparagus throughout the year,

0:32:370:32:40

all the time, so we do need to supply them.

0:32:400:32:43

How do you compare the two?

0:32:430:32:45

What do you think, you know, is the difference with the British and the Peruvian?

0:32:450:32:49

Some of the Peruvian asparagus is not bad,

0:32:490:32:51

but it's, I wouldn't say tasteless, but compared to the British,

0:32:510:32:55

it's still nowhere near as good as our own.

0:32:550:32:58

I couldn't agree more.

0:32:590:33:00

In fact, asparagus sugar levels drop by half within four days of being cut.

0:33:000:33:06

So, it's little wonder the Peruvian stuff doesn't taste as good.

0:33:060:33:09

There's a huge difference with the Peruvian and the British asparagus.

0:33:090:33:13

You have the fresh, local asparagus. It is moist.

0:33:130:33:15

The sugar levels are high and you get this freshness of pea flavour.

0:33:150:33:19

Whereas Peruvian can be quite dry and it becomes quite woody

0:33:190:33:24

because it's taken so long to get here.

0:33:240:33:26

Paul Taylor works for the Carbon Trust, which wants us

0:33:270:33:29

to reduce our carbon footprint by shopping responsibly.

0:33:290:33:32

He's going to show me

0:33:320:33:33

the true cost of buying imported Peruvian asparagus.

0:33:330:33:36

The start of the journey is obviously grown in Peru.

0:33:370:33:40

It will then be taken to an airport where it is flown to Miami, up here in America.

0:33:400:33:46

So, that's the first part of its journey.

0:33:460:33:48

When it's in America, it may stay in storage for some time. And then

0:33:480:33:51

after it's been in Miami, it's then flown over to us here in the UK.

0:33:510:33:56

So, it's quite a long journey.

0:33:560:33:58

Over a staggering 6000 miles in fact

0:33:580:34:01

and that journey can take up to 14 days, which means you could be

0:34:010:34:05

eating asparagus that was picked two to three weeks ago.

0:34:050:34:08

And it's not just the taste that suffers.

0:34:080:34:10

Transporting it all this way has a massive impact on our environment.

0:34:100:34:14

That asparagus has to fly all the way around the world and use lots of

0:34:140:34:17

airline fuel, so we've calculated that the carbon footprint for that journey is

0:34:170:34:21

about 10kgs of CO2 for every 1kg of asparagus that is transported over.

0:34:210:34:27

That's equivalent to boiling water to make 500 cups of tea.

0:34:270:34:31

That's how much energy you need for 1kg and

0:34:310:34:34

when you think how much asparagus is coming over, that's a lot of carbon.

0:34:340:34:37

It's shocking stuff.

0:34:400:34:41

So, the next time you're in the supermarket, don't be tempted

0:34:410:34:44

to buy imported asparagus.

0:34:440:34:46

Wait for the British season and enjoy it as its best.

0:34:460:34:49

Freshly picked and full of flavour.

0:34:490:34:51

In this recipe I'm not cooking the asparagus at all.

0:34:540:34:57

I'm serving it raw.

0:34:570:34:58

I'm making it into a salsa and it just really lifts it.

0:34:580:35:02

You can taste the sweetness

0:35:020:35:04

and, of course, it needs to be as fresh as possible.

0:35:040:35:07

I'm making seared salmon with asparagus salsa.

0:35:080:35:11

It's a match made in heaven.

0:35:110:35:12

Now, I'm going to start off by preparing the salmon and removing the skin.

0:35:120:35:16

So, I have a lovely piece of salmon here

0:35:160:35:18

and to make it easy for you at home,

0:35:180:35:21

all you want to do is find the partition in the middle.

0:35:210:35:23

Go straight down. Glide a sharp knife, which is very important...

0:35:230:35:27

along the salmon. OK.

0:35:280:35:29

Now, if you're in a restaurant situation we do trim everything

0:35:290:35:33

off and make it as nice as possible and, I guess, habits for me die hard.

0:35:330:35:38

That's my salmon, and as you can see it's very easy and anyone can do it.

0:35:380:35:42

I'm going to cure the salmon in a zesty marinade with

0:35:420:35:45

lots of sea salt, fresh lemon

0:35:450:35:46

and fresh lime, which will complement my asparagus salsa perfectly.

0:35:460:35:50

Now, asparagus, as I recall as a child, my very first

0:35:530:35:58

taste of it, I did not like it at all.

0:35:580:36:00

I believe it was even tinned and rolled in some kind of sandwich.

0:36:000:36:04

Where I'm from in New Zealand we also get a lot of the purple variety.

0:36:040:36:08

Um, again very fresh and also very seasonal.

0:36:080:36:11

Once you've rubbed the marinade into the salmon,

0:36:110:36:14

leave it in the fridge for 15 minutes.

0:36:140:36:16

I love salmon. It's such a versatile fish.

0:36:180:36:20

But what I prefer about it, is that you can eat it raw or just

0:36:200:36:24

seared, like I'm doing in this recipe.

0:36:240:36:26

I'm using my hands but, please,

0:36:310:36:33

if you're at home a palette knife is best.

0:36:330:36:36

And this is what you want. You just want to be turning it

0:36:370:36:40

and you can see that it's just searing the salmon.

0:36:400:36:42

OK. You're not cooking it all the way through.

0:36:420:36:45

Once it's seared, wrap in cling film

0:36:470:36:50

and put it back in the fridge for 15 minutes. It will make it easier to slice later.

0:36:500:36:54

Now, for the star of the show, our British asparagus. Fresh asparagus,

0:36:550:37:00

it is one of my favourite ingredients,

0:37:000:37:02

especially in season. And you can tell the asparagus is fresh

0:37:020:37:05

because when you snap it off at the end here you can see the moistness

0:37:050:37:09

and the juice that is coming out of this wonderful ingredient.

0:37:090:37:12

And all you want to do is then cut them into little circles.

0:37:120:37:16

And remember, I'm serving it raw.

0:37:180:37:20

The fresher it is, the sweeter it tastes.

0:37:200:37:23

The older the asparagus, the woodier the stems will get

0:37:250:37:28

and you can really see it.

0:37:280:37:29

Not on these particular ones, because they're still very green.

0:37:290:37:32

They get pale in colour and they start to dry out.

0:37:320:37:34

It's not what you want to be using.

0:37:340:37:36

We want as fresh as possible.

0:37:360:37:37

And the same goes for the rest of my ingredients -

0:37:370:37:40

whether I'm cooking at the restaurant or with my husband at home.

0:37:400:37:43

For us, as a family, the weekend is the best time.

0:37:430:37:45

We get together and we cook together.

0:37:450:37:48

We get our five-year-old daughter involved and she loves it.

0:37:480:37:50

From desserts to making main courses and preparing vegetables.

0:37:500:37:53

She's in there helping out all the time.

0:37:530:37:56

And she's learning that when it comes to flavour, nothing

0:37:560:37:59

beats fresh, seasonal, home-grown produce.

0:37:590:38:01

I can't emphasise how important it is to taste.

0:38:020:38:04

Even if it's for yourself.

0:38:040:38:06

You probably sit down at the table and you find it's missing something else.

0:38:060:38:09

So, while you're cooking, when you make it,

0:38:090:38:11

taste. Make sure it's ready and perfect before you serve.

0:38:110:38:14

That's how it should be.

0:38:170:38:19

You want the asparagus to be the first taste that hits your mouth.

0:38:190:38:23

It's still sweet. It's got the crunch.

0:38:230:38:25

But then you've also got a hint of chilli,

0:38:250:38:27

the coriander and the wonderful balsamic to finish it at the end.

0:38:270:38:31

It's ready to go.

0:38:310:38:32

Slice your salmon.

0:38:370:38:38

Now, you want to see that the salmon is still very pink in the middle.

0:38:400:38:44

OK.

0:38:440:38:45

Then finish it off with some fresh asparagus shavings.

0:38:480:38:51

And you want to just drop that into the bowl, where there should be

0:38:530:38:55

some juices form the dressing in there, and place it on the top.

0:38:550:39:00

There you have it.

0:39:020:39:04

That is my seared salmon with an asparagus salsa.

0:39:040:39:06

You need to get out there.

0:39:110:39:13

Get yourself some seasonal asparagus and give this a go.

0:39:130:39:17

If British asparagus is to compete with the imported varieties,

0:39:240:39:28

it needs to be available all year round. A challenge this High Street supermarket has taken on.

0:39:280:39:34

We always get lots of requests from customers asking us

0:39:340:39:37

when's the UK season going to start.

0:39:370:39:39

So, we're going to take the opportunity to work

0:39:390:39:41

with our grower, John Chinn, to travel the world looking for the best

0:39:410:39:44

varieties and best growing methods for UK asparagus,

0:39:440:39:48

so that we can extend the season.

0:39:480:39:50

So, for you asparagus lovers who want to buy home-grown,

0:39:500:39:55

local British asparagus, we have some great news.

0:39:550:39:59

Our season has been extended. What fantastic news. How about that?

0:39:590:40:04

And it's thanks to the hard work and determination of this man, John Chinn.

0:40:040:40:08

He spent over 10 years researching modern farming techniques

0:40:080:40:11

and is now growing different varieties at different

0:40:110:40:14

times of the year at his farm in Herefordshire.

0:40:140:40:16

So, John, what have you got here then in the tunnels?

0:40:160:40:19

Well, this is my autumn asparagus crop, but the next tunnel coming up,

0:40:190:40:23

this is one that we've harvested this spring.

0:40:230:40:26

John's experimented with new varieties, south-facing slopes

0:40:260:40:29

and different growing methods to find the right combinations.

0:40:290:40:32

And you can feel the immense heat coming out of these tunnels.

0:40:320:40:35

We want to keep the tunnels ventilated,

0:40:350:40:38

so by being on a slope the hot air keeps rising

0:40:380:40:40

and it keeps drawing in some cooler air from the bottom.

0:40:400:40:43

His polytunnels and irrigation system help create optimum

0:40:430:40:47

growing conditions for his Mediterranean varieties.

0:40:470:40:50

We collect all the rain water that falls on these tunnels,

0:40:500:40:53

because we don't want the roots to get waterlogged

0:40:530:40:56

and then we use that water to irrigate back.

0:40:560:40:58

And these modern technologies have allowed him

0:40:580:41:01

to extend the British asparagus season by a whopping six months!

0:41:010:41:05

We try to start for Valentine's Day,

0:41:060:41:09

14th of February, then we'll run through until early July.

0:41:090:41:12

Then we'll have a break for the rest of July and August

0:41:120:41:15

and now we can then harvest again through September and October.

0:41:150:41:19

Why is it you can't grow in July and August?

0:41:190:41:21

Or you can't harvest in July and August?

0:41:210:41:23

It's basically because July and August are the two months

0:41:230:41:27

when we can get the most energy from the sun.

0:41:270:41:30

And so, through those two months we really have got to have the

0:41:300:41:33

crop in fern, because this fern is getting the energy from the sun

0:41:330:41:38

and it's turning the sun's energy into sugar down in the roots.

0:41:380:41:41

It's growing a really big root system and filling it with sugar.

0:41:410:41:45

Then we can cut it down and we can harvest it in September and October.

0:41:450:41:49

The only season John is yet to conquer is the British winter,

0:41:490:41:52

when it gets too cold.

0:41:520:41:54

But I did harvest some for Christmas Day last year.

0:41:540:41:57

No!

0:41:570:41:58

-Only enough for my own family.

-I was going to say.

0:41:580:42:00

You weren't sharing, were you, because no-one knew about that secret crop?

0:42:000:42:04

And what's even more incredible is that John

0:42:050:42:08

learnt his techniques from his Peruvian competitors whose

0:42:080:42:11

asparagus fills our supermarket shelves at Christmas time.

0:42:110:42:15

They don't really like giving their secrets away,

0:42:160:42:19

but a couple of visits to Peru, a few tequilas and...

0:42:190:42:22

I can imagine they wouldn't want to give their secret away

0:42:220:42:25

because now you're making us stable, we don't need to buy from Peru.

0:42:250:42:30

This is all replacing Peruvian imports

0:42:300:42:33

and it's with a sweeter, more tender, delicious product.

0:42:330:42:36

And this is what we want.

0:42:360:42:37

Asparagus lovers, they are going to be so happy to discover this.

0:42:370:42:41

-Hope so.

-I'm happy.

0:42:410:42:44

Labour costs are high when it comes to harvesting asparagus.

0:42:440:42:47

About half is done solely by hand, but John also uses

0:42:470:42:51

a couple of rigs and I've volunteered to give them a hand.

0:42:510:42:54

That is one strange contraption. It looks quite scary up close.

0:42:560:43:00

I'm not as brave as I was two minutes ago, now.

0:43:000:43:03

What you're supposed to do is pick the tall ones as you go.

0:43:030:43:06

Hand, yeah. You low down.

0:43:060:43:09

I have to go more down.

0:43:090:43:11

Yes. Down, please.

0:43:110:43:13

Wish me luck.

0:43:130:43:14

This feels very scary now.

0:43:150:43:18

Go very, very slow.

0:43:200:43:22

Nope, missed it.

0:43:250:43:26

-One.

-Yeah, very good.

0:43:280:43:30

Look at that. Right, this ones going in my pocket.

0:43:320:43:36

I'm loving it. I could stay out here all day.

0:43:360:43:39

Although this is probably the slowest harvest they've ever done.

0:43:390:43:43

This rig allows pickers to harvest four tonnes of asparagus a day

0:43:430:43:47

and is much less back-breaking than harvesting by hand.

0:43:470:43:50

Still, it's not easy work. Although, I've got to say my back...

0:43:500:43:54

I can feel my lower back.

0:43:540:43:55

It's also your asparagus.

0:44:000:44:01

It's my asparagus. Did you hear that?

0:44:010:44:04

You heard the man say "It's my asparagus,"

0:44:040:44:06

so that's coming back with me, yeah?

0:44:060:44:09

-Yeah.

-Where are you going?

0:44:090:44:11

Well, that was fun, but it's made me hungry.

0:44:120:44:14

Luckily, there are plenty of these luscious green spears to go around.

0:44:160:44:20

Fresh from the field,

0:44:200:44:21

cooked on the BBQ with a deliciously sweet taste you simply can't beat.

0:44:210:44:26

This is something we all need to support.

0:44:260:44:29

You don't want to be buying from abroad

0:44:290:44:30

when you've got it here in your back yard.

0:44:300:44:32

Look at it. It doesn't get any better than this. Come on!

0:44:320:44:35

And to celebrate John's extended asparagus season, here's

0:44:360:44:39

one of my favourite asparagus dishes.

0:44:390:44:41

The next dish I'm going to show you is a delicious

0:44:450:44:47

and filling all-in-one meal.

0:44:470:44:49

It's asparagus with pearl barley and bacon.

0:44:490:44:53

The first thing I'm going to make is the sauce.

0:44:570:44:59

So, I'm going to use the woody stems or the ends of the asparagus.

0:44:590:45:04

Normally, people don't use it, but I've seen how hard

0:45:040:45:07

and how difficult it is to harvest asparagus.

0:45:070:45:11

I was out there on that rig.

0:45:110:45:13

If you can imagine doing 40/50 of these rows, per day.

0:45:130:45:17

It is killing your back.

0:45:170:45:19

I did one row and by the end of it, I could really feel it.

0:45:190:45:22

And that's why, I have to say, I don't want to waste any of it.

0:45:220:45:25

I want to use every bit of this asparagus.

0:45:250:45:29

So, I simmer the tough ends in stock to make the sauce.

0:45:300:45:33

Slice the tender middle bits to use in my pearl barley

0:45:330:45:36

and blanch the tips to add in at the end.

0:45:360:45:38

I have some boiling hot water here.

0:45:380:45:40

I'm going to season it with a pinch of salt.

0:45:400:45:42

And in goes the asparagus for about 30 seconds, no more.

0:45:450:45:49

And they keep their lovely green colour best

0:45:500:45:52

if you plunge them into ice water to stop the cooking.

0:45:520:45:55

And you can just set that aside. Once they're cool, remove them.

0:45:560:45:59

Use them when you're ready.

0:45:590:46:00

Now, for the pearl barley.

0:46:020:46:03

You want to cook this off for about a minute before you add the white wine.

0:46:050:46:09

Very similar to cooking a risotto.

0:46:100:46:12

My husband is the Head Sommelier at the restaurant,

0:46:160:46:18

and he says its actually quite difficult to match a drinking

0:46:180:46:21

wine with asparagus, however, he does suggest a pinot blanc.

0:46:210:46:25

If you're looking for a British variety, there is a Bacchus

0:46:250:46:28

grape that is grown in Cornwall and they make their own British wine.

0:46:280:46:33

Back to the sauce, which needs to be blitzed and strained.

0:46:330:46:37

Now, it's very important, when you make your sauce, you're going

0:46:390:46:42

to see you've got all this parts of the stringy asparagus in there.

0:46:420:46:45

Now, don't just throw that out.

0:46:450:46:47

What you want to do is press that through, OK.

0:46:470:46:49

It's going to remove any lumps that you don't want,

0:46:490:46:51

but you're going to get the maximum flavour.

0:46:510:46:53

If you were using, for example, Peruvian or aged asparagus

0:46:560:46:59

it's going to be more white and not as green.

0:46:590:47:02

So, the flavour, as well, will not be as intense.

0:47:020:47:06

Time to add the rest of the ingredients, starting with

0:47:060:47:08

the broad beans and the bacon lardons.

0:47:080:47:11

This is a great way to enjoy asparagus. It's a filling dish.

0:47:110:47:14

Great for the autumn, especially now the season has been extended.

0:47:140:47:17

However, it's great simply with butter, with poached eggs,

0:47:170:47:21

with fish, as an accompaniment, and with hollandaise sauce.

0:47:210:47:24

There's lots of wonderful ways to enjoy asparagus.

0:47:240:47:28

In go the asparagus tips.

0:47:280:47:29

Remember, these are cold

0:47:310:47:32

so make sure that they actually heat through before you serve the dish.

0:47:320:47:35

At the last moment, in goes some tomatoes which I've cut

0:47:380:47:41

into dice, but if you want to do them in petals it's completely up to you.

0:47:410:47:45

This is a dish that I would make at home, at the weekend.

0:47:520:47:55

You know, when you don't want to be making something too fussy.

0:47:550:47:58

You want something very easy.

0:47:580:47:59

Or even after work. It's very easy to make and absolutely delicious.

0:47:590:48:04

All that's left to do now is froth up the sauce with some double cream.

0:48:040:48:08

That has a wonderful aroma of fresh asparagus.

0:48:200:48:23

Now, I'm piling my asparagus up, because I love asparagus.

0:48:270:48:30

And there you have it.

0:48:330:48:34

A fantastic way to use up every bit of your precious asparagus,

0:48:340:48:37

including the woody ends.

0:48:370:48:39

My asparagus with pearl barley and bacon.

0:48:390:48:41

The first mouthful of this dish is just full of asparagus flavour, so

0:48:480:48:53

if you're an asparagus fan or about to be, this is a dish for you.

0:48:530:48:57

You've got the hints of the bacon, the tomatoes

0:48:570:49:00

and the earthiness of the pearl barley really completes it.

0:49:000:49:03

You need to go out there and get yourself some asparagus.

0:49:030:49:06

The most famous of our British asparagus is Formby asparagus,

0:49:130:49:16

known for its superior sweet taste and purple tips.

0:49:160:49:19

It grows in the sand dunes on the Sefton coast,

0:49:190:49:22

and in its heyday covered 200 acres.

0:49:220:49:25

But this, sadly, is one of the last remaining farms, now

0:49:250:49:28

owned by the National Trust.

0:49:280:49:30

Andrew, what makes Formby asparagus so special?

0:49:300:49:33

It's something about the landscape.

0:49:330:49:35

The sand, it's got the minerals.

0:49:350:49:37

We've probably got a fair amount of calcium around.

0:49:370:49:40

We've got the salty, briny air.

0:49:400:49:41

We've got the climate that's really suited to asparagus, as well.

0:49:410:49:45

Local farmers started cultivating the dunes in the mid-19th century.

0:49:470:49:51

The dunes were levelled.

0:49:510:49:53

They were flattened by a massive amount of endeavour and labour.

0:49:530:49:59

Formed up into level areas where the asparagus was grown.

0:49:590:50:03

On nothing but clean sand and a bit of good old farmyard manure.

0:50:040:50:08

So, what's happened to the Formby asparagus?

0:50:100:50:12

Its roots system is very demanding on the soil

0:50:120:50:15

and these fields have to be rotated and left fallow for 12 years.

0:50:150:50:19

That's one of the difficulties, is where you find new land.

0:50:210:50:25

Most of the dune land, now, is protected.

0:50:250:50:28

It's part of a site of special scientific interest

0:50:280:50:32

and special area of conservation.

0:50:320:50:34

It's very difficult to get any permission to bring that

0:50:340:50:37

back into cultivation.

0:50:370:50:38

And if the National Trust hadn't stepped in and bought this

0:50:380:50:41

plot of land, Formby asparagus would have disappeared forever.

0:50:410:50:45

Luckily for us, David Brooks, a third generation asparagus farmer

0:50:450:50:49

is renting their plot to grow a brand new crop of Formby asparagus.

0:50:490:50:53

How quick do they grow, David?

0:50:540:50:56

Well, you can put your hand on the sand, like that, and it feels hot.

0:50:560:50:59

They can grow anything up to four inches a day.

0:50:590:51:02

Wow.

0:51:020:51:03

And they need to be picked every day for the eight weeks they're in season.

0:51:030:51:07

Making it a real labour of love.

0:51:070:51:10

They're so thick. Look at that.

0:51:120:51:14

Do you make a living from the asparagus alone?

0:51:170:51:19

No.

0:51:190:51:21

On our acreage here, as you can see, we don't get the harvest big

0:51:210:51:26

enough to make a living.

0:51:260:51:28

It's just a tradition. A cottage industry.

0:51:280:51:31

Perhaps a hobby that's got a little bit out of hand.

0:51:310:51:33

Erm, so I make my living, erm, training apprentices in engineering.

0:51:340:51:38

Not in growing asparagus?

0:51:380:51:40

-Unfortunately, not in growing asparagus.

-David, come on.

0:51:400:51:44

But there is a glimmer of hope for David's asparagus.

0:51:440:51:48

With the support from Andrew Brockbank and the National Trust,

0:51:480:51:52

we've got a bit more land over there we can, you know, move on to

0:51:520:51:56

in a few years' time. So, I think it's pretty safe for the near future.

0:51:560:52:01

Which is great news for British asparagus lovers like me.

0:52:010:52:05

So, the next time you're tempted to buy asparagus out of season,

0:52:050:52:08

stop and think about farmers, like David, who are striving to

0:52:080:52:11

keep our culinary heritage alive.

0:52:110:52:13

This dish, you can make at home to entertain and wow your friends.

0:52:180:52:21

Its asparagus with a herb mayo and crispy quail eggs.

0:52:210:52:25

So, the first thing I'm going to do for this dish is to cook

0:52:330:52:35

and prepare the quail's eggs.

0:52:350:52:37

I have some boiling water here.

0:52:370:52:39

I'm going to season it with a pinch of salt.

0:52:390:52:41

In go the quail eggs, and you only want to cook them for about a minute.

0:52:410:52:45

When they're cooked, I'm going to put them

0:52:470:52:49

into a bowl of iced water with malt vinegar.

0:52:490:52:53

Now, the reason for doing this is the vinegar breaks down the shell.

0:52:530:52:57

If you find quail eggs, they're quite fiddly to pick,

0:52:570:53:00

so if you put it into the malt vinegar, leave it in the fridge for

0:53:000:53:03

about 30 minutes you'll find it very easy to peel and remove that shell.

0:53:030:53:08

I'm serving the quail eggs with some of David's delicious jumbo

0:53:080:53:11

asparagus, fresh from the sand dunes at Formby.

0:53:110:53:15

Now, I've seen how labour-intensive it is to grow and to harvest them.

0:53:150:53:19

If you happen to be in the Northwest, get behind them

0:53:190:53:22

and buy your local Formby asparagus.

0:53:220:53:25

I have salted boiling water and in they go.

0:53:250:53:28

The asparagus, because they're quite large, they're going to cook for about three or four minutes

0:53:280:53:32

and then again I'm going to refresh them in iced, salted water.

0:53:320:53:36

While the asparagus cooks, I peel my quail eggs and coat them

0:53:360:53:40

in flour, egg and bacon breadcrumbs.

0:53:400:53:42

I'm using some plain flour,

0:53:420:53:44

breadcrumbs, with bacon roughly chopped and put through it.

0:53:440:53:48

You can blitz it in a blender, if you have it, but I do it by hand. I have one egg.

0:53:480:53:52

It's your normal pane mix, just with the addition of smoked bacon.

0:53:520:53:56

So, into the flour they go.

0:54:010:54:02

Very lightly coat them in the flour. Not too much.

0:54:020:54:05

Coat them really well in the breadcrumb mix.

0:54:100:54:13

You'll probably find that if you coat it a second time you'll

0:54:130:54:16

get more of that bacon and crumb on it.

0:54:160:54:18

Now, for my simple herb mayonnaise.

0:54:200:54:23

Chervil and chives are the herbs that I've chosen,

0:54:230:54:26

but if you can't get a hold of them, use parsley or tarragon.

0:54:260:54:29

Remembering that the stronger the herb, the stronger

0:54:290:54:32

your mayonnaise is going to be and that will affect your dish.

0:54:320:54:35

I've chosen herbs that won't overpower the asparagus,

0:54:350:54:38

but will help to enhance the flavour.

0:54:380:54:40

To make the mayonnaise, whip up an egg yolk with some

0:54:490:54:52

great British mustard and add the herb oil.

0:54:520:54:54

I find it quite rewarding to make your own mayonnaise.

0:54:540:54:57

It's something that we always do at home.

0:54:570:55:00

Now, I think it's a tip.

0:55:000:55:01

When you're making mayonnaise do not add your oil too quickly or

0:55:010:55:05

it will split, meaning it will separate.

0:55:050:55:07

Then, deep-fry the quail eggs in hot oil for no more than a minute

0:55:100:55:13

to keep the yolks nice and runny.

0:55:130:55:14

Eggs, classically, they go so well with asparagus.

0:55:160:55:19

People serve them poached, or as I do, crispy eggs and any eggs will do.

0:55:190:55:24

So long as they're soft and runny I think that's exactly how

0:55:240:55:27

they should be.

0:55:270:55:29

It's almost like another dressing, another element to your dish.

0:55:290:55:32

And now we're ready to finish and plate our dish up.

0:55:370:55:40

There you have it. A dish to impress your friends.

0:55:460:55:49

This is a great plate. Wonderful fresh flavours.

0:56:020:56:06

This is why you want to buy seasonal asparagus as locally as possible.

0:56:060:56:11

I've had a great time encouraging you to buy

0:56:180:56:21

and cook British asparagus.

0:56:210:56:23

But if you're still not persuaded, maybe this will help.

0:56:230:56:27

It's the annual asparagus festival

0:56:280:56:29

in the Vale of Evesham, Worcestershire.

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An event that celebrates this locally grown ingredient in all its glory.

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How brilliant is this?

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Evesham asparagus is, we like to think, the best in the world.

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We grow, probably, more asparagus in this area than anywhere

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else in the country now.

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And also it's fresh.

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It hasn't travelled for thousands of miles or even hundreds of miles.

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It's literally out of the ground and onto the plate, which is delicious.

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Since the asparagus festival has been launched it really has

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also launched local businesses, local asparagus

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and it has now turned into the festival that it is today.

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It's in everybody's blood, really.

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People get very excited at the start of the asparagus season.

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And asparagus producers come from all over and there's

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everything from asparagus burgers to asparagus ice cream.

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There's even an asparagus fortune teller.

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Really?

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Very, very interesting picture here.

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But the highlight has to be the asparagus auction, which

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raises money for the local brass band.

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The best price it ever made was £1,200 - for that, 120 spears of asparagus.

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I've had asparagus from all over the world. It's all good.

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But nothing is as good as Vale of Evesham asparagus.

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What I've learnt about asparagus is it's not only hand-picked,

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but it's so labour-intensive.

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The freshness and the sweetness when it's straight out of the field

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and onto your plate is just amazing.

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We really need to support our local farmers and growers.

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Buy your asparagus in season, locally. It really can't be beaten.

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Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

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Monica Galetti flies the flag for British asparagus and is delighted to discover that the season has been extended from eight weeks to six months. Tom Kerridge champions our remaining artisan producers of traditional cured ham and encourages us all to seek out this delicious meat.

Michelin starred chef Tom Kerridge, loves his ham, and thinks too much of it's not up to scratch. For centuries, every village would have its own ham curer, and in Devon he meets up with one of the few remaining artisan producers of traditional British cured ham. To persuade us to break our 'bad' ham habits, Tom takes to the streets of Northampton with a campaigning ham sandwich giveaway.

British asparagus always sells out during its brief eight week season, but Monica Galetti of Masterchef: the Professionals fame, has good news. The British season is now extended to six months, thanks to a farmer in Herefordshire who's using modern technologies to grow a range of varieties, in Peruvian-like conditions. And Monica heads to the sand dunes of the Sefton Coast to find that last remaining field of Formby asparagus, the most famous of our heritage varieties.


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