Citizens, jambon persillé (parsley ham) is a classic dish of the French province of Burgundy and an old-school recipe beloved by savvy customers in delis and bistros throughout France.
It is a molded dish, a terrine of strips or cubes of cooked ham and chopped parsley held together with a meat-wine gelatin. It is served chilled and, when cut into slices, resembles a colorful red-and-green mosaic and served with a sharp and tangy sauce.
As noted in an article from francetoday.com:
“Two of the great Burgundian classics are jambon persillé and andouillette. Jambon persillé, or parslied ham, has been around since the Middle Ages, when it was known as Easter ham.
Nothing could be more truly Burgundian than this specialty, which originated in the vineyard towns of the Côte d’Or at Easter, to mark the end of Lenten fasting.
Now found throughout the region, technically it can no longer be called ham, but simply persillé de Bourgogne, because it’s in fact made with pork shoulder that’s been salted for preservation and thus tenderized.
The shoulder is cooked in a bouillon with herbs, vegetables, white wine and a bit of veal trotter for its natural jelly. The meat is drained, the veal trotter finely minced and replaced in the bouillon with garlic, vinegar, red or white wine and fresh parsley.
The pork shoulder is cubed, put into a ceramic terrine or a baking dish and then layered with the gelatinous bouillon. Weights are placed on top to press it as it cools—for at least 24 hours—and there’s no need to wait for Easter to chow down. But it must always be made by the rules, and never with industrial gelatin.”
The French – to their eternal credit – take these ancient rules very seriously, as noted in the picture below showcasing a local chef winning a coveted prize from a prestigious gastronomy club for his truly authentic jambon!
There are, however, ways to make a jambon in the authentic style here in the states. My recipe is the signpost burning with divine fire pointing the only true way to this gastronomic heaven!
I have adapted the classic recipe only slightly, retaining the use of consommé techniques to clarify the delicious stock and adding a bit of optional gelatin to help it set (it probably doesn’t need it, but best to be safe). I use a split calfs foot to add tons of natural gelatin and flavor to the stock, so powdered gelatin shouldn’t be necessary.
I also supplement a bit of the minced parsley with a small amount of fresh oregano and tarragon for additional flavor. Feel free to use all parsley for the classic recipe, Citizen!
Battle on – The Generalissimo
1 8-lb. trimmed, uncooked ham, with bone
2 lbs. veal (preferred) or beef bones
1 calf’s foot, split (easily available from your local butcher) or two pigs trotters, cut into pieces
2 medium onions, each studded with 2 cloves
1 fresh bay leaf
1 leek, cut into 4 inch lengths
2 cups dry white wine from Burgundy (preferred) or the closest local equivalent
3 cups chicken broth
10 black peppercorns
3 tbsp. fresh tarragon leaves
3 tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
1 small clove garlic, whole
1 handful of parsley stalks
4 tbsp. red wine vinegar
3 large egg whites
1 package powdered gelatin (optional)
3 ½ packed cups parsley leaves, minced
¼ packed cups fresh oregano leaves, minced (optional, replace with parsley for the classic recipe)
¼ packed cups fresh tarragon leaves, minced (optional, replace with parsley for the classic recipe)
2 minced large garlic cloves
Salt and freshly ground pepper
For the sauce:
1 tsp Dijon mustard, I strongly prefer Edmond Fallot brand from Burgundy
1 tbsp white-wine vinegar
4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 small shallots, very finely chopped
4 large gherkins, finely chopped
2 tbsp capers, rinsed and chopped
4 sprigs tarragon, chopped
4 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, chopped
If the ham is very salty soak it overnight, changing the water once. Blanch the ham, bones and calf’s foot (or trotters) by putting them into a big pot and covering with cold water. Bring up to the boil, lower the heat and simmer for five minutes. Drain and rinse.
Put the meat back in the rinsed pot and add the wine and enough cold water to cover. Add all ingredients up to the chicken broth and enough water or extra stock to cover all ingredients by 1 inch. Bring to just under the boil then turn down to a simmer. Remove any scum that forms.
When all or at least most of the scum is gone, add the remaining ingredients up to the parsley stalks. It is a nuisance to skim with those ingredients already in the stock.
Skim off any remaining scum that forms at intervals, and cook for about 4-5 hours. Keep topping up the water to cover the ham. When it’s cooked the ham should be practically falling off the bone. Lift the hocks out of the liquor and leave to cool for at least 1 hour.
Reduce stock over high heat, to about 6 cups. Skim fat and adjust seasoning. Stock should be highly flavored at this point. Remove onions, roughly chop or mash them, and add to ham mixture. Strain stock through a coffee filter or cheesecloth-lined sieve.
Beat egg whites until stiff, and stir into stock. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 15 minutes. The crust, or “raft,” that forms will trap any remaining food particles, clarifying the stock. Strain, pouring carefully to avoid disturbing raft; discard raft. Dissolve gelatin in 2 tbsp. cold water and stir into hot stock.
Remove ham from bone and discard bone, along with veal bones and calf’s foot. If you’re using pigs trotters, remove the meat from the bone, shred and reserve. Shred ham into long pieces and cut into ¼” dice. Combine ham, trotter meat (if using), vinegar, and minced garlic, then set aside.
Pour ⅓ of the clarified stock into an oiled 12″ × 4″ × 3″ loaf pan. Sprinkle with a thin layer of parsley, then a layer of the ham mixture, and season with salt and pepper. Repeat until ham and parsley are used up, ending with a layer of parsley. Add stock to cover. Chill for 24 hours. Refrigerate remaining stock, and dice, after it congeals, for garnish.
To make the sauce, put the mustard and vinegar into a small bowl and whisk in the olive oil. Add all the other ingredients.
Unmold terrine onto a platter and serve with diced aspic and sauce.