Hamming it up with groats


So you’ve got a fridge with leftover glazed ham, some carrots, celery, leeks and a basin of the sweetly-spiced liquor in which the meat simmered.

You’ve got a few tomatoes nearing the end of their useful lives.
You’ve got half a packet of groats – that ancient grain that’s finding its way back into favour with trendy cooks and health fiends.
You’ve got a spare half-hour to chop veg and chuck them in a pan.
The result: a great big steaming bowl of a thick, nutritious and flavoursome broth that must have cost pennies to make.
The veg had been cut into big chunks and cooked in a little olive oil.
The groats were briefly toasted to add colour and extra flavour before being added with the tomatoes.
In went big succulent lumps of the ham, bought primarily for Sunday dinner from the excellent Rossiters Organic Butchers in Bournville.
Then the skimmed liquid and a bay leaf.
Away it simmered for an hour or more, filling the kitchen with the fragrance of the ham and the black cardamom, cloves and other spices that had been used to flavour the original cooking liquor.
It’s a technique I’ve used with leftover beef and lamb, too, and each time it’s produced a hugely satisfying and cheap supper.
Every keen cook loves using great ingredients – prime steak, scallops, foie gras, truffles, whatever.
But there’s something even more rewarding about making the most of modest bits and pieces.
By the way, a light Italian red goes remarkably well with such dishes.