+
0 (0)

Category: Main courses

Jambon de Paques (Easter ham)

Jambon de Paques (Easter ham)
Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times

When I see a wedge of jambon persille, a mosaic of rose-pink chunks of ham set in a shimmering aspic flecked with parsley, I know I'm back home in Burgundy. I've come across parsleyed ham in other parts of France ... Read more

Total time: 6 to 7 hours preparation time plus 24 hours soaking and 6 hours setting | Serves 16 to 20
  • 1 (12- to 14-pound) raw cured country ham, on the bone
  • 2 calf's or pig's feet, split (2 1/4 pounds)
  • 2 to 3 pounds veal bones
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 5 to 6 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 2 onions, peeled, whole
  • 1 leek, trimmed and split, rinsed
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 2 carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise
  • 2 bottles (750 ml each) Chardonnay
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 to 2 large bunches flat-leaf or curly parsley (about 6 ounces)
  • 1 to 5 tablespoons unflavored gelatin (optional)
  • 6 shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup Chardonnay or 2 tablespoons lemon juice (optional)
  • 6 hard-cooked eggs (optional)

Step 1Wipe off any mold on the outside of the ham with a damp cloth dipped in a little vinegar. Soak the ham 24 hours in cold water, changing the water 3 or 4 times.

Step 2After soaking, blanch the ham: Drain and put it in the stock pot with the calf's or pig's feet, veal bones and water to generously cover. Bring it slowly to a boil, skimming often and taking at least 20 minutes. Simmer 5 minutes, then remove the meats and rinse them with water. Taste a small piece of the ham, and if it is still very salty, blanch it again. Meanwhile, strip the parsley leaves from the stems and set aside the leaves. Tie the stems in cheesecloth with the bay leaves, thyme and peppercorns.

Step 3Put the ham, feet, bones, bag of aromatics, onions, leek, celery, carrots and wine in the pot. Add water to generously cover the ham, cover and bring the pot slowly to a boil. Remove the lid and simmer very gently, uncovered, until the ham is tender enough to be pulled apart with a fork, about 6 hours. Skim the pot often during cooking to remove fat and to keep the liquid clear; add water during cooking if necessary to keep the meats covered.

Step 4Let the pot cool for 15 minutes, then lift the ham out and set it aside. Let the ham cool to tepid, then pull it apart into large chunks with your fingers, cutting away any tendons and discarding bones and any skin. I find that the finished aspic is prettiest if I pull the ham from the bone and then pull it apart into 1-inch slivers with my fingers, rather than cutting cubes with a knife.

Step 5Strain the cooking liquid into a bowl, discarding veal bones, vegetables and spice bag. Skim the cooking liquid very thoroughly (if you have time to chill or freeze it so the surface fat solidifies, so much the better). Wipe out the stock pot, return the liquid to it and boil to reduce it until very well flavored, about 3 quarts. This may take half an hour or more. To give the parsley leaves bright color: Wash and dry them, chop and put them in a small bowl. Pour one-half cup boiling water over the parsley to set the color and leave to cool.

Step 6Test the cooking liquid after it is well reduced, to be sure it sets well: Freeze a saucer until very cold and add a tablespoonful of liquid. If it sets firmly and leaves a clear trail when you push it with a fingertip, it is ready to use. If it is soft, it will need 1 to 2 tablespoons gelatin; if very soft, play safe and use 3 to 5 tablespoons gelatin. To add the gelatin, put three-fourths cup water in a small saucepan. Sprinkle the gelatin and leave it until spongy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Stir the sponge into the hot cooking liquid until melted. Taste and adjust the seasoning -- it will probably need pepper, but possibly no salt. Strain it through cheesecloth into a metal bowl, stir in the parsley and water, shallots, and garlic. Taste, and adjust the seasoning again. If flavor needs brightening, stir in one-half cup more wine, or a squeeze (2 tablespoons) of lemon juice.

Step 7To mold the aspic: Set the bowl of aspic in a deep pan of ice water and chill it, stirring occasionally, until it is cool. Aspic will thicken quite suddenly when cold, so take it off the ice when cool. Put the deep bowl in the ice water, spoon in a half-inch layer of aspic (1 cup) and chill until set (it will set quite quickly). Meanwhile halve the hard-boiled eggs. Arrange 5 to 6 halves, cut sides down, in a flower pattern on the aspic (they should not touch the bowl sides). Spread some of the ham on top and spoon in enough aspic to moisten and almost cover the ham and eggs. Chill until set.

Step 8Quarter the remaining eggs and arrange them in a circle on the aspic. Stir the remaining ham into the remaining aspic and add it to the bowl -- it should be almost full. Press the pieces of ham well below the surface of the aspic and make sure no air bubbles are trapped beneath the ham.

Step 9Transfer the bowl to the refrigerator and leave until firmly set, at least 6 hours. It can be stored, covered, in the refrigerator up to a week, but once cut open it should be eaten within a day.

Step 10To unmold and serve the aspic: Dip the bowl in warm water for 30 seconds. Run a knife around the edge of the aspic, tip the bowl sideways and pull the aspic away from the bowl with your fingers to break the airlock. Set a flat platter on the bowl and tip the aspic onto the platter with a quick shake. No decoration is needed, though you can add a few green curly lettuce leaves or micro greens if you like. At table, cut the aspic in wedges using a very sharp knife, or if serving from the kitchen, use an electric knife.

Each of 20 servings:
585 calories; 48 grams protein; 1 grams carbohydrates; 0 fiber; 36 grams fat; 12 grams saturated fat; 159 mg. cholesterol; 1,041 mg. sodium.
Have a specific question about a recipe or found a problem? Let us know at food@latimes.com
More recipes in Main courses
Paella with artichokes and mushrooms
Cafe des Artistes' fillet of sole Provencal
Torsh kebab
Chicken soup with dill and cumin