Grilled Ham Steaks with Pineapple

Gammon, Ham or Kassler? Confused? Me too. Before researching this, I knew two things about the three items listed above:

  1. they’re all pork, and
  2. they’re all delicious – if you like pork.

Grilled Ham Steaks with PineappleGrowing up, our enormous extended family would always try to get together for Christmas and each individual family would be responsible for bringing different dishes, ie. turkey and salad; ham and veggies; roast lamb and figgy pudding. My Gran always made the Christmas cake and three tables were placed end to end so there was enough place for us all to sit. The largest congregation totalled almost 60 one Christmas. Mayhem, but lots of noisy fun. And far, far too much food.

I was too young at the time to be very interested in the preparing of the food and it was honestly like taking your life into your hands if you ventured too near the kitchen with Aunts, Great Aunts and my Gran in it all at the same time. Now I’m sorry I didn’t find a corner and learn from them as I remember hearing words like Gammon – but I had no idea what it was. Mounds of delicious food just appeared on the table.

One of my boyfriend’s mother’s was a very good cook – one of her meals was Kassler chops which she grilled with slices of pineapple on the top. This has become one of my family’s favourites too, although we don’t eat a lot of pork. So on the odd occasion that I serve this, it is devoured almost immediately. And it has all of 2 ingredients: pork and pineapple…brilliant! I’ve always loved the salty sweetness of these ingredients combines, even my favourite pizza has ham and pineapple on it.

The reason I talk about old Christmas meals and kassler chops, is not to string you along, but to explain (while reminiscing) the difference between Ham, Gammon and Kassler.

I’ve read a number of very confusing articles, but then found this description on www.thebutcherweb.co.za. It seemed pointless trying to paraphrase it as it explains it really well:

“Like gammon, ham comes from the hind leg (or rump) of the hog, can be smoked or unsmoked, and is available in bone in or out form. Gammon, however, is uncooked, and ham can also be made from dry-cured silverside and rump of pork, such as is the case with black forest ham.

Gammon is in fact the hind leg cut from a side of bacon after mild curing, but people are getting into the habit of calling any bacon joint suitable for boiling and baking a piece of gammon.

Kassler or Kasseler is a cured (salted), slightly smoked cut of pork from the neck, loin and ribs, although shoulders and bellies can also be used. Kassler come in ribs, steaks and rolls.

In Germany, the process of smoking meat and letting it ripen in a salt brine is known as “Kasseler”. Any cut that has gone through the “Kasseler” process is given the name. For example, Kasselernacken is pork shoulder and Kasselerbauch is pork side. Kasseler Rippchen is very similar to ham, except that it is a bit smokier, slightly drier, and less salty.”

So there you have it. Except that I haven’t been able to find Kassler chops since I moved to New Zealand, so I’ve had to substitute with ham steaks. In my quest to be a responsible consumer, I try to buy free-range meat where possible, but I have yet to find a supplier of free-range pork products other than sliced ham and bacon. So back to us not eating pork very often. I can’t help but feel sorry for the animals reared in shocking conditions so don’t like supporting that industry.

Sorry, I’ll hop off my soap box and get on with the recipe. As I said, it has all of 2 ingredients: ham and pineapple, so my instructions are pretty simple:

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 190°C fan-forced grille (or 200°C if not fan-forced).
  2. Place however many ham steaks (or kassler chops if you’re lucky enough to find some) on an oven tray.
  3. Either cut fresh pineapple slices or use slices from a tin of Pineapple in juice, not syrup – just too sweet! If using fresh pineapple, core the slices or the centre will be too hard and cut the slices fairly thin.
  4. Place the slices on top of the steaks/chops and grill for 10 – 15 minutes. As the meat is already par-cooked, you’re just finishing it off.
  5. Pour over some of the pineapple juice and serve immediately.

Enjoy!

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