Monday, August 30, 2010

Herb-Braised Picnic Ham (Page 493)

RECIPE #1202

  • Date: Sunday, August 15, 2010 -- 7pm
  • Location: East Lansing, MI
  • Kitchen: Our House
  • Dining Companion: Matty
  • Recipe Rating: B-

There are a lot of recipes left in the Beef, Veal, Pork, and Lamb section of The Book, so I am trying to make some progress on that section. This recipe was part of that effort. I started with a picnic ham, which isn't really ham at all. It is a cut of pork shoulder rather than hind leg. But it is cured (in this case smoked) like a ham, and hence has a flavor very reminiscent of ham. I started by blanching the picnic ham. I put it in cold water, brought the water to a boil, then drained. Then I cooked some leeks, onion, carrots, celery, garlic, thyme sprigs, parsley, nutmeg, peppercorns, and cloves in butter. I added white wine, then the ham and some water. I braised the ham for several hours, then thickened the braising liquid with a beurre manie to make a sauce. I removed the skin from the ham and discarded it. The instructions were then to slice the meat and serve with the sauce, but I chose to shred it instead (what can I say, I like my braised meat to be shredded!). I had only one complaint about this dish and it was a complaint which I make very rarely -- this dish was too salty. I love salt, and it is rare that something is too salty for me, but this dish was incredibly salty. I would call it borderline inedible. In a way I feel that I shouldn't fault the recipe though, as the salt level was certainly dependent on how the meat was cured. Perhaps whoever tested this recipe was using a less salty picnic ham than the one I had. The whole point of the initial blanching step was to remove some of the salt. Presumably some salt was removed, but there was plenty left to seep into the braising medium, and hence into the sauce for the dish. The meat without the sauce was already too salty, but with the sauce it was shocking. On the upside, the herb flavors of the dish were nice and the meat was wonderfully tender. I suspect that had I blanched the ham longer, or started with a less salty ham this dish would have been quite nice.

The recipe is here.

Only 91 recipes left to go!

Last night we had our first real dinner party in our new house! On a few occasions last fall our family and friends came to visit and we made big meals, but this was the first time that we invited some fellow East Lansing residents over for dinner. There were eight adults and two toddlers. The kids were running around, the kittens were running around, and there was a ton of food. It was absolutely delightful. This summer has been so crazy with travel/moving/getting settled that I haven't had many opportunities to cook with or for anyone other than my special gentleman. In the earlier years of this project most of the recipes were made as part of big dinner parties with friends. We have been so unsettled lately though that hasn't been possible. I have also been hesitant to invite people in East Lansing over for a Book dinner. Most of the people we know here we don't know well, and while I am happy to serve some of the potentially gross end-of-the-project food to my nearest and dearest, I feel a little weird serving up octopus and tripe to new friends! Luckily there are a few reasonable things left in The Book, including many grilled recipes we haven't made because we didn't own a grill. We bought a grill last week, so yesterday we made non-sketchy grilled food from The Book and I don't think we scared anyone off!

Dinner last night made me realize how much I have been missing that feeling of having a bunch of people piled around a table. It inspired me to make sure that throughout these last 90 or so recipes from The Book I do invite people over to eat with us. It's just more fun that way!

No comments: