- Heat the oil in a large flameproof casserole. Add the gammon and cook over a fairly high heat for about 5 minutes, turning the pieces frequently until they are browned all over. Use a draining spoon to remove the gammon from the casserole and set the pieces aside on a plate.
- Add the onions and peppers to the oil remaining in the pan. Stir well, then cover and cook for 10 minutes or until the vegetables are softened. Stir once or twice, scraping the bottom of the casserole to mix in all the browned cooking residue.
- While the vegetables are cooking in the pan, peel the pears, quarter them lengthways and remove the cores. Toss the pears with the lemon juice so as to prevent them from turning brown.
- Return the gammon cubes to the casserole. Add the pears with the lemon juice, the sugar and thyme, and pour in the stock. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and cover the casserole. Simmer gently for about 20 minutes or until the pears are tender.
- Use a draining spoon to transfer the pears to a bowl; cover and set aside. Stir the sweet potatoes into the casserole and bring back to simmering point, then cover and cook for a further 10 minutes. Mix the cornflour to a smooth paste with 2 tbsp cold water and stir into the casserole. Bring to the boil, stirring. Reduce the heat, cover again and cook for 5 more minutes or until the gammon and sweet potatoes are tender.
- Discard the thyme sprigs. Add the nutmeg and season with salt and pepper to taste. Ladle the casserole into shallow bowls and add the pears. Garnish with thyme sprigs and serve.
Some more ideas
Gammon and pineapple are a popular combination and work well in this casserole. Add 8 slices of fresh pineapple or 1 can pineapple in juice, about 430 g, drained, with the sweet potatoes. * Use ordinary potatoes instead of sweet potatoes. Cook for 15 minutes before adding the cornflour paste. * Substitute 6 halved and stoned firm red plums for the pears, adding them with the sweet potatoes. Use oregano or marjoram instead of the thyme, adding fresh sprigs or ½ tsp of the dried herb. * The casserole is also delicious made without sweet potatoes. Instead serve it with baked potatoes, couscous or rice or with mashed white potatoes.
Pears contain vitamins C and E and a good quantity of potassium as well as natural sugars and soluble fibre (pectin). * Gammon is a first-class source of protein, B vitamins (especially B12), iron and zinc.
Each serving provides
A, B6, C, E * B1, B12, copper, iron, phosphorus, potassium, zinc * folate, niacin, calcium