Ragout of Ham

This is a delicious eighteenth-century recipe from Dr Johnson’s London.


  • 2 lb (1 kg) piece of gammon
  • ¼ cup (60 g) brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (30 g) butter
  • ¼ cup (30 g) flour
  • cup (1.5 dl) red wine
  • 1 teaspoon castor sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Juice and zest of 1 large orange


Boil the gammon in water with the brown sugar and when it is cooked allow it to get cold in the liquid. It is often convenient to do this the day before.

Lift out the gammon and discard the liquor in which it cooked. Carve it into 12 rather thick slices and trim them of all fat and skin. Melt the butter in a saucepan, lay the gammon in it and turn the slices frequently over a low heat until they are heated through.

Lay the gammon slices in a fireproof dish and keep warm.

Stir the flour into the butter to make a roux, add the wine, stirring well, and then stir in the sugar, cinnamon and pepper. Finally stir in the orange juice and zest. Check the seasoning: the sauce should be of the consistency of fairly thick cream, slightly sharp and a little sweet and spicy. Pour it over the ham and serve at once.