Recipe: Mouthwatering potato gratin with Parma Ham

Today I’m cooking a delightful potato dish with a very special ingredient – Parma Ham.

This amazing product is made from only four ingredients: pork, salt, air and time. Love that!

The pigs must be bred on one of the 10 northern and central Italian regions and only three breeds can be used to produce this delectable ham. There’s a special salting process which is a vital part of the curing process and of course there’s that special Parma air which helps to give the ham it’s incredible sweetness. I’ve been to Parma (lucky me) and must admit the air certainly smells sweeter.

The hams must be cured for at least a year, and up to three years. And all of this comes together to give us one of my absolute favourite products ever. How I wish I could have a leg hanging in my kitchen for convenient slicing.

Parma ham: hanging

The tempting hams hanging in line

Potato gratin with Parma Ham

The ingredients

Serves 4

2 large potatoes

4 slices of Parma Ham

1 ball of Buffalo Mozarella

2 tbsps olive oil

The process

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Wash, peel and slice the potatoes into 3mm slices. Pan fry the slices in the olive oil until lightly browned on both sides.

Place a layer of potato slices at the bottom of the dish. Then alternately layer the ham and potato. Finish off with a layer of the Buffalo Mozzarella.

Cover with foil and cook for 20 mins. Remove the foil and return to the oven for another 5-10 mins or until the top is golden brown.

Remove from the oven and press down the top of the dish with a spatula so the juices cover the top.

Let rest for about 30 mins in a warm place before serving.

Parma Ham: potato recipe

The deliciously cheesy, hammy potato dish

Parma Ham: gratin

Layering the tasty dish with Parma Ham

Parma Ham: Le Cordon Bleu

Welcome to the world of Parma Ham at Le Cordon Bleu

I took part in the Parma Ham masterclass at London’s Le Cordon Bleu professional cookery school. It’s part of the international network of culinary schools around the world.

Parma Ham: kitchen

Getting ready to cook…can you spot me?

You can find out more about Parma Ham at 


Recipes: Two great dishes with Parma ham

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


This wonderfully simple pasta dish is so full of flavour

Serves 2

100g ‘00’ pasta flour

1 medium egg

Pinch of salt

Black pepper

Truffle oil

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


This combination of ingredients takes chicken to another level

Serves 2

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

Olive oil

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.

Inspiring recipes using peas

Peas are one of my favourite vegetables, so sweet and juicy and amazingly versatile. I always have a frozen bag in my freezer – it even came in really handy once when I sprained my ankle!

These lovely pea recipes come thanks to the Yes Peas! campaign. For more, visit their website at, where you can also order your free recipe book.

Pea Blinis with Parma Ham and Mint & Melon Salsa

Pea blinis with Parma ham

Pea blinis with Parma ham

Makes 36-40

150g peas, defrosted

400g cold mashed potato

1large egg, beaten

50g plain flour

1-2 tbsp double cream

Sea salt and black pepper

Butter and rapeseed oil, for frying


12 slices Parma ham

1 x 250g tub mascarpone

Melon & Mint Salsa

200g ripe melon, peeled, seeded and cut into small pieces

2tbsp mint leaves, finely chopped

Juice of 1 lime

Sea salt and black pepper

Make the pea blinis; mix together the peas, potato, egg and flour until smooth. Season well and mix in the double cream, the mixture should resemble thick porridge.  Heat some oil with a little knob of butter in it, spoon heaped tablespoons of the mixture into the oil.  Cook over a medium heat until golden brown, then turn and cook for a further minute on the other side until the blinis are cooked through and firm to the touch.  Drain well and leave to cool slightly.  Cook the remaining mixture.

To make the melon and mint salsa; mix the chopped melon flesh with the finely chopped mint leaves, stir in the lime juice and season with black pepper and a little sea salt.

Lay the blinis on a tray and top with small pieces of Parma ham, a small amount of mascarpone and a little of the melon and mint salsa.

Peas on Toast

Pea Bruschetta (2)

Makes 8 slices

8 slices French bread, around 1inch thickness

2 tbsp olive oil

1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed slightly

Sea salt

2 tbsp basil pesto

300g frozen peas, thawed and drained

A handful crushed mint leaves

1 tbsp half fat crème fraiche

Squeeze lemon juice

100g feta cheese

Black pepper

Paprika or cayenne pepper for decorating

Brush the bread with the olive oil, and then rub with the garlic and sea salt.

Preheat a griddle or frying pan until very hot and then add the slices of bread in batches and toast well on both sides.  Spread a little pesto on each bruschetta. Using either a pestle and mortar or a food processor (crush or pulse) the peas, mint, crème fraiche, add a squeeze of lemon juice and stir in most of the feta cheese and season with sea salt and black pepper.

The pea mixture shouldn’t be completely smooth, it should have some texture.

Spoon the mixture onto the bruschetta, top with the remaining crumbled feta cheese and sprinkle with a little paprika or cayenne pepper.

Tip: This mixture is also lovely spooned over pan-fried chicken or salmon or used as a dip for crudities


© Copyright Michael Powell 01673 838040 Pea Tapas

Spanish potatoes with chorizo and peas, pork and pea meatballs and pea, ham and egg empanadillas

Pork and Pea Meatballs

Serves 4-6

3 tbsp olive oil

3 shallots, peeled and finely chopped

2 tsp sweet smoked paprika

1 garlic clove, peeled and chopped

1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

2 tbsp medium sherry

500g minced lean pork

50g breadcrumbs

1 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley

1 egg yolk

1 tsp dried oregano

Sea salt and black pepper

150g peas

Tomato Sauce

1 tbsp olive oil

2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

2 tbsp ground cumin

1 tbsp sweet smoked paprika

1 roasted red pepper, peeled and blitzed

400g can chopped tomatoes

100ml vegetable stock or white wine

Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large heavy based frying pan and gently soften the shallots, add the paprika, garlic, chilli and sherry and bubble for a few minutes.

In a large bowl mix the pork and breadcrumbs together with the parsley, egg yolk, oregano and season with sea salt and black pepper.  Add the cooked shallots and peas, mix well and shape into little meatballs (approximately 12-14).

In a new pan brown the meatballs all over in the remaining oil for about 5 minutes, set aside.

To make the tomato sauce, add the oil, garlic, cumin, paprika and the stock or wine and bring to the boil. Add the tomatoes and blitzed pepper. Mix well and season. Add the meatballs and simmer very gently for 8-10 minutes.

Serve the meatballs with the other tapas or as a main meal.

Spanish Potatoes with Chorizo and Peas

Serves 4

4 good-sized potatoes, peeled and cubed

2 tbsp olive oil

1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped

150g diced cooking chorizo

2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

2 tsp smoked paprika

A good pinch of chilli powder

1 tsp ground cumin

400g can plum tomatoes

150g peas

Squeeze lemon juice

Chopped parsley

Sea salt and black pepper

Place the potatoes in a pan of boiling salted water. Cook until just tender.  Drain and cool a little. Heat a large frying pan with the olive oil. Add onions and chorizo and potatoes, season with sea salt and black pepper. Cook until the onions are soft and the potatoes start to brown a little, and then add the garlic, paprika, chilli powder, cumin and tomatoes. Cook until the potatoes are completely cooked and the tomatoes have thickened. Then add the peas and cook for a further 2 minutes. Add a good squeeze of lemon juice; taste and season again, finish with chopped parsley.

Pea, Ham and Egg Empanadillas

Makes 12-15

2 hard boiled eggs, roughly chopped

25g chopped green olives

50g peas, thawed and drained

50g finely chopped ham

50g grated cheddar or manchego

1-2 tsp mayonnaise, to bind

2 sheets ready rolled puff pastry

1 egg yolk, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 220°c/425°f/Gas 7

Lightly grease two baking sheets. Combine the eggs, olives, peas, ham and cheese together with a little mayonnaise to bind and season with black pepper.  Cut the puff pastry into 10cm (4”) circles.  Spoon a little of the mixture into the centre of each round and fold over the pastry to enclose the filling and crimp the edges to seal.  Place the parcels on the trays 2cm apart.

Brush with the egg yolk and bake for 10-15 minutes or until brown and puffed.