I can almost hear the Spitfires flying overhead as I type this, gawd bless us all! I have got to thank Fergus Henderson and his cook book Nose to Tail eating for reminding me of this classic. I’ve been working my way through it for a while now trying its Offaly delights when the Lady isn’t around.
Since I brought a pig’s head home some of the more “obscure” food stuffs have been banned from the kitchen. Fair play really as twelve hours of my shouting blow by blow updates of how the head was holding together (or not as the case was) may have been a bit traumatic... “Eeeew THE EYES HAVE CLOSED NOW!”
The only complex thing (read the only thing you can fuck up) about this dish is the Parsley Sauce, basically a béchamel with Parsley thrown in you need to remember to cook the sauce out to stop it tasting floury! The other secret to the sauce is to add your milk slowly, letting the sauce return a smooth state before you add more liquid.
This more or less ensures a lump free product but if needs be use a whisk then if worse comes to worst you can use a sieve... Cook the ham in a deep pan, with the stock veg for as long as it needs. Ask your butcher if you are not sure.
Then take the meat out and allow it to rest covered with some foil. Fish out all the stock veg and cook the Potatoes (Potatoes take longer so add them first) and Runner Beans in the stock for that added flavour. While they are cooking get the Parsley Sauce ready.
Melt the butter in a pan and add the flour slowly till it becomes a smooth paste. Cook through on a low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon and slowly add your milk. When you think it looks ready taste it... If it tastes floury cook it for a little while longer basically!
Add the Parsley, season and we are ready to put everything on the plate! Those nice big slices of still warm ham gently drizzled with the Parsley Sauce seem to make the world a better place when all you can see on the news is people smashing up our fair city...
Stock Veg – Onion, Carrots, Celery
6 to 8 Whole Peppercorns
2 or 3 Bay Leaves
For the Sauce:
20 grams of Flour and 40 grams of Butter
Milk – Just use enough to make a smooth lump free sauce. It will be less than a pint don’t worry but always seems to vary slightly!
Finely Chopped Curly Leaf Parsley – Stalks reserved for the Ham Cooking Liquor.
(Fergus uses 100grams of Flour and Butter in his to 600ml of Milk for four servings this seems a little excessive to me)