Spicy Mexican Gammon

Mexican gammon (8)

This is a seriously old recipe that my sister-in law gave me back in the 80’s. It popped into my head this morning because I have quite a lot of ham to use up from Christmas, and I do hate waste.

The reason that it’s called Mexican gammon is because when you put the peppers and onions together in the pan, they’re the colours of the Mexican flag (I’d forgotten this until I started to make it this morning, and noticed the colours in the pan :). Of course they’re also the Italian colours, but this is definitely a more Mexican-flavoured dish..

mexican gammon (4)

The original recipe called for ham steaks – does anyone remember them? They were two rather watery slices of uncooked ham in a vacuum pack. They were very popular in the 80’s, grilled with brown sugar and a slice of tinned pineapple on top – classy! :)

I’ve stepped up my ingredients’ game a little over the years, so I’m using my lovely leftover Christmas  ham, and I’ve added the oregano and cumin over the years. If you can find ham steaks, then use them by all means. I was able to throw this together today for a quick, easy and healthy dinner, just what we needed after the excesses of Christmas. Once you’ve tried this, you’ll make your own changes I’m sure, but here’s the basic recipe to try first..


  • 1 deep-sided frying pan or a medium sized saucepan
  • 1 large saucepan

INGREDIENTS: This will feed at least 4 hungry people, if you want to stretch it a little, just add another tin of tomatoes, and a bit more ham if you have it.

  • 200g cooked or uncooked ham, cut into fingers, fat removed.
  • mexican gammon (2)1 red and 1 green pepper, cut into thin slices
  • 1 red or green chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 large or two medium onions, peeled and sliced into crescents
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon of dried Oregano
  • 1 teaspoon of ground Cumin
  • 1 tin of tomatoes, plus a few fresh ones if you have them (I was using mine up today) or a jar of Passata.
  • tomatoesSplash of red wine (optional)
  • Splash of Tabasco (optional) Taste it first and see..
  • tablespoon of rapeseed oil, or low fat cooking spray, if you’re being particularly good.
  • Basmati rice to serve


  • Liberally spray the deep pan and put it on a high heat.
  • Put the prepared onions, peppers and chilli into the pan, and stir fry until becoming tender, about 5 minutes
  • Add the ham pieces and garlic and stir again.


mexican gammon (5)

  • Add the Oregano and Cumin.

mexican gammon (6)

  • Add the tinned/fresh tomatoes and wine if using, and stir in.
  • Reduce the heat now and let the whole lot bubble gently and reduce a little while you cook the rice.
  • I used to serve this with garlic bread back in the day, but now it’s usually some flatbread or warmed tortillas, and a crunchy side salad. A dollop of crème fraiche is a great addition too..

mexican gammon (7)


  • Don’t be tempted to add salt until you’ve tasted this – my ham, even though I’d soaked it before cooking, was salty enough for our taste.
  • You don’t need to have ham – some nice back bacon will do very nicely if you’re stuck. You can use Chicken thighs for this recipe too.
  • This recipe is full of ingredients that are ‘free’ on several slimming plans, and as I use 1  calorie spray, there’s no added fat either. You’d never believe it when you taste it. I was counting as I chopped this morning and there are 3 out of your 5-a-day veggies in there too, not counting the garlic and chilli!

I started writing down recipes in an old copybook when I was about 16. With 6 children at home, my Mother was always glad of a hand in the kitchen, and really allowed us to experiment - as long as we washed up afterwards, and left the kitchen immaculate! Having a tidy kitchen has followed me through my life, as has the habit of writing down my favourite recipes; except that these days I write them for my website, and add photographs when I can. The website really started when it occurred to me that my daughter might like to have these recipes when I've forgotten them. In my early days of cooking for family and friends, I used to phone my Mum all the time to ask her for the recipe for some of our favourite family dinners. She rarely had a recipe to hand - I think, like me, she made a lot of it up as she went along.. So welcome to Eating for Ireland - these are the recipes that my friends and family having been eating these past 40 years.. yes, I truly am ancient! They are tried and tested, and have worked for me for all that time - I have updated them as new ingredients became available - I really hope you'll find something that you can make into a family favourite of your own. You don't have to tell anyone where you found these great new dishes that you're serving up - it can be our little secret, but I'd really love it if you could give me a sneaky 'follow' on Facebook and Instagram.. So off you go - have a good rummage around, you're bound to find something new! My sincere thanks to all of you who have found a recipe that you liked and dropped me a line to tell me - I really do love to hear from you! Happy Cooking! Becks xx

Posted in