Freezer Diving

What’s in your freezer? Probably less than there was a few weeks ago, thanks to coronavirus and shortages of some foods. You perhaps only have a tiny icebox at the top of your fridge but if you live miles from the shops like I do, the chances are that you have a fairly big freezer and you are unearthing a few surprises, especially if the label’s fallen off.

In the last few weeks we’ve eaten wild boar and goat, fallen with cries of joy on pats of butter that were hiding in corners and been thankful for home-made ready meals, stews and the like, that we popped in the freezer for a rainy day. I know we’re lucky to be so well off for food and I don’t take it for granted. But there are only two of us and we’ve also got some big joints of meat bought for when the family comes to stay. I never thought I’d look at an enormous lump of beef with something approaching dismay.

Short of hacking it into smaller pieces with my husband’s chainsaw, the solution is to take a leaf out of my parents’ book. When we were kids (bear in mind my mum and dad lived through wartime rationing and weren’t rolling in money) we’d have a joint on Sunday, eat it cold on Monday, then for much of the rest of the week we’d be eating it in the form of cottage pie, shepherd’s pie, chicken pie with a shortcrust top or maybe rissoles. These days we are more cosmopolitan and might turn the leftovers into curries, ragus, or chiles. Batch cook, eat what you need and re-freeze the rest.

So far, so obvious and pretty much what we do normally anyway, albeit with smaller pieces of meat. But I left the freezer door ajar the other day and although I discovered my error in time to avert disaster, I had to defrost it properly and found a lovely smoked gammon recently acquired from Rob The Pigman, aka Scottsfield Pork. It’s quite hefty but as it’s likely to be months before the family can visit again I took it out to eat. That beef joint will have to wait its turn.

With my mother in mind, I’m going to serve the ham hot with parsley sauce. We ate this a lot when I was a child: it’s not exotic in the least but it is delicious. Plain boiled potatoes and some greens are all that’s needed on the side. Be lavish with the parsley and make the sauce quite thick.

So now you know what we’ll be eating for supper tonight – and for most of the coming week. We’ll perhaps eat the rest of the gammon cold, with buttered new potatoes and lettuce (salad cream optional, we never had mayo); with a poached egg on top for breakfast; in omelettes, a hash, a pie with leek and potatoes, a pasta sauce, a quiche or in toasties with cheese; if I’m feeling fancy, in a terrine, spiked with gherkins and capers; and having saved the cooking water for stock, in soups. The possibilities are endless.

I started this feeling a bit gloomy and uninspired but I’ve cheered myself up just re-reading what I’ve written. Put your key ingredient in the search box here on Mrs P and see what pops up, re-read your cookery books, check out the numerous videos and live online cookery demos from well-known chefs and food writers, or ask Mr Google. You could even ask your mum. There’s always something out there to fit the bill, whatever your cooking quandary. Just don’t get frostbite.

21 thoughts on “Freezer Diving

  1. Resonates with me dear Linda…. finding all sorts and some I rather wish I hadn’t found…
    Love to you and maybe we could meet for a drink in a zoom room together one evening…Bx

  2. I’ve never been good at the freezer. If I make something for it, it inevitably gets hauled out the same week, or gets forgotten about till it’s old, white and freezer burnt. Is this my opportunity to change, do you think?

    • It might be an opportunity for an overhaul of the contents, at least. I have one friend who’s been going through her cupboards and chucking out the unloved and out of date stuff – but putting it in a cardboard box just in case. Not a solution with freezer contents, sadly. 🙂

  3. Growing up in Suffolk I was always told that gammon and parsley sauce was very much a local dish and I always adored it. Still do although these days I use Gordon Ramsey’s excellent glaze! Never goes to waste in this household either.

  4. Thanks for these ideas! I do wish now I’d been more conscientious about labeling the things I’ve frozen… But I know we have a very large pork shoulder in the freezer waiting to be defrosted. Will have to take a leaf out of your parents’ book, too. It’s going to be a porky week.

  5. That’s so good you were able to cheer yourself up reading your own thoughts! We’re lucky here in the US with extra fridges and freezers. I typically don’t want my freezer to be full because out here in the country, we often lose electricity, but it is full, and that does make me relieved. But just meat. At least the hoarders aren’t buying produce, cause that’s what I’m after when I go to the store. My garden is mostly planted but not producing yet, of course. That will help. Crazy times.

  6. Rob the Pigman. Funny. Our exterminator in the Caribbean is Jim the Bugman. Choose your profession wisely! ~Chip the Retiree, thankfully.

  7. Mrs. P,
    You are, as always, inspirational in your scribbling. We are fortunate enough to have replaced the freezer in recent months. This process led to freezer roulette for a few evenings. However, it also strengthened my resolve to label everything that goes in. I have a post on that subject forming in my mind.
    On the gammon front, I am in full agreement on your approach, my own rule on parsley sauce is to chop enough parsley then chop the same amount again. The only missing ingredient from your dish is a good thick English mustard on the side.
    Happy isolating,

    • I have a confession to make – I don’t really like English mustard. Shameful, I know, and probably one of those childhood hangovers as I like wasabi, which in this country is usually … mustard. Thank you for the kind words, Conor. I look forward, as always, to reading your post. Stay well. Linda xxx

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