Sunday, 22 November 2009

jellied ham, parsley and quail's eggs

so...this is the second of the ham recipes. the dish you end up with is pretty big - it would easily serve six as a starter, if not more. i gave half of it to a friend - hence the cut (though a wiser person might have taken a photo before cutting it but there we go), and there was still enough left for our lunch and for my breakfast the next morning. well, why not?

i have to confess a couple pf things about this recipe. it is a faff to make so you have to be the sort of person who enjoys spending time in the kitchen (having a dishwasher would also help), and it kind of falls apart when you cut into it. the first cannot be remedied - you're either willing to spend 10 minutes chopping up ham or you're not. which brings me to the second thing - cutting up the ham really finely, into chunks much smaller than i could be bothered with, is the way to ensure the ease of cutting. the falling apart thing doesn't really bother me but it's probably not something you would want to serve at a dinner party.

the dressing is a must - the mustard kick makes all the difference.

JELLIED HAM, PARSLEY AND QUAIL'S EGGS

1kg or a bit less of leftover ham, cut finely into very small dice
reserved ham cooking liquid (you can throw away the veg or make a little soup with some of the remaining stock - you should have more than the 500ml needed here)
2 eggs
100ml nice white wine (possibly not as nice as the italian gavi i used)
5 sheets of gelatine
12 quail's eggs
a huge bunch of curly parsley, chopped very finely

DRESSING:

2tbs white wine vinegar
2 tsp dijon mustard
salt and pepper
5tbs olive oil or more

put 500ml of the reserved cooking liquid into a pan and bring to a simmer. break the eggs, reserving the shells, then separate the yolks from the whites and beat the whites until they form stiff peaks. spoon the whites onto the stock. crush the egg shells with your hands and also pour over the stock. stir, then turn up the heat until it comes to boil. as soon as it does, turn the heat down completely and let the mix calm down. then repeat the process one more time. the point of the bizarre egg white business is to clarify the stock and, though it definitely works, i just don't think i'd bother next time. cloudy stock is not really one of my top concerns in life.

strain the stock through a fine sieve. stir in the wine.

in a separate bowl, soak the gelatine leaves in cold water for five minutes. lift them out with your hands, squeeze out the excess water and put into the pan with the stock and the wine. stir until the gelatine has dissolved.

now do the eggs. put them in a small pan, cover with cold water, bring to the boil and after exactly two minutes, take them off the heat. drain and rinse until cold water to cool down. to peel, roll each egg gently under your hand to break the shell. cut in half - wetting a knife will help not drag the yolk out of its nest.

in a large bowl, mix the ham and the parsley, and season generously.

take a loaf tin and line with clingfilm so it overlaps the sides. start putting layers of the ham and parsley mix, interspersed with some egg halves. you might want to start with a few eggs as that is the side that will be visible when you turn the whole thing out. if you see what i mean.

when you've used up the lot, pour the stock over. cover with clingfilm and leave to set in the fridge for at least eight hours or preferably overnight.

for the dressing, mix all the ingredients together and whisk. and to serve, cut into generous slabs and spoon over the dressing.

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