Okay, I admit it, I’m a bit of a ham fanatic! There’s always ham of some sort in my fridge and when I go to Italy or Spain I dream about lugging home a whole leg, complete with its special frame and knife so I can nibble freshly sliced delicacies at my leisure. As it’s not the most practical of ideas – have you ever tried lifting one of them, not to mention how long would it take for me to get through a whole leg on my own – there’s no tempting ham on tap in my kitchen. Of course that doesn’t mean I can’t eat it to my heart’s delight.
I went to Parma in Italy a couple of years ago where there was a delicious aroma of ham in the air, I swear there was. The platters I dug into there were truly sensational. So I’m very excited to try cooking with this wonderful meat – a good reminder that while it certainly tastes amazing simply sliced and devoured, it’s also a fabulous ingredient to cook with. Try these yummy dishes.
Fresh Tagliatelle with Black Pepper, Truffle Oil,
Parma Ham and Parmigiano Reggiano
100g ‘00’ pasta flour
1 medium egg
Pinch of salt
4 slices of Parma Ham
4 tbsps of Parmigiano Reggiano
1. Place the pasta flour into a small bowl. Make a well and crack an egg into the middle with a pinch of salt. Using a fork, stir the egg and gradually bring in the flour a little at a time until you get a messy dough. Use your hands to press the dough together and kneed on a clean surface for a couple of minutes until you have smooth and firm dough. Add a little water if too dry, or extra flour if too wet
2. Using a pasta machine, make sure the thickness setting is on highest (should be No.10 on most machines). Roll your dough through this setting and then fold the dough in half. Pass it through again and then fold it in half again and follow this procedure 10 times until you have a very smooth dough. Now roll the dough through each setting twice until you get down to No 2 or 1. Your pasta should be very thin now
3. You can now cut your pasta into the shape of your choice. If you have a Tagliatelle cutter feed the thin sheet of pasta through it and lay the pasta on a tray lined with baking paper. Blanch in salted water for 1-11/2 minutes or until cooked and slightly al dente. Toss with truffle oil, and top with Parma ham and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
If you don’t have the time or inclination to make your own pasta (though it is delicious and very therapeutic), simply cook pasta according to the packet instructions and follow the second half of Step 3. Simple.
Roast Breast of Chicken stuffed with Tarragon and wrapped in Parma Ham.
Salad of New Potatoes, Spring Onions, Cress and Purple Sprouting Broccoli
35g full fat cream cheese
1 small onion diced and cooked off in a little olive oil
1 small hand-full of freshly chopped Tarragon
2 chicken fillets
2 slices of Parma Ham
2 pints chicken stock
Salt and pepper
120g baby new potatoes
4 spring onions sliced
1 tub fresh cress
120g purple sprouting broccoli
1. To make the stuffing, mix the cream-cheese, onion and tarragon together with a little olive oil and add pepper to taste; set aside
2. For the salad, wash the potatoes thoroughly and boil until soft. Blanch the broccoli. Mix extra virgin olive oil with the potatoes cress and spring onions. Add the broccoli to the top of the salad after seasoning; set aside
3. Cut a pocket in the chicken breast fillets and add a teaspoon of the stuffing; close-up the pocket Now wrap a slice of Parma ham around each breast and drizzle with olive oil; lightly season with salt and pepper. Roast in a pre-heated oven at 170C/Gas mark 5 for twenty-five minutes
4. Take 1.5L of chicken stock and reduce to 8 tablespoons /120ml
5. When the chicken is cooked, take out of oven, rest for 5 minutes. Place on top of the salad and drizzle with jus.
Thanks to The Underground Cookery School for the recipes.