Cooking with Parsley: Ham in Parsley Aspic

This herb is more than just a frill.

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Serves 6 to 12

This classic French dish—pink shredded ham in emerald green aspic—is a wonderful addition to summer buffet tables. I prefer the texture of flat-leaved parsley in this recipe.

• 5-pound ham (shank or butt) with bone
• Water
• 2 cups dry white wine
• 1 medium onion, sliced
• 1 teaspoon chopped thyme
• 3 bay leaves
• 1 carrot, sliced
• 1 stalk celery, sliced
• 1 leek, sliced
• 2 cups chopped flat-leaved parsley, plus a few whole leaves for garnish
• 2 packages unflavored gelatin

1. Trim and discard the ham fat. Place the meat in a large Dutch oven with water to cover. Bring to a simmer and simmer for 5 minutes. Pour off and discard the water. Add 1 cup of the wine and all other ingredients except the parsley and gelatin. Add fresh water to barely cover. Cover the pot and bring the liquid to a boil over moderate heat. Reduce the heat and simmer about 2 hours, or until the ham reaches an internal temperature of 155°F.

2. Remove the meat from the liquid, set it aside to cool briefly, then shred it into ½-inch pieces. Meanwhile, strain the liquid into a bowl, chilling it in a basin of ice water. Discard the solids. Skim off and discard the congealed fat. Place 1 cup of the defatted broth in a blender container along with the remaining cup of wine, 2 cups water, and half the chopped parsley. Puree, then pour into a saucepan.

3. Soften the gelatin in 2 tablespoons cold water, then add to the puree. Bring just to a boil over high heat. Remove immediately. Pour the puree-gelatin mixture into a terrine, casserole, or mold and stir in the meat and remaining chopped parsley. Press the meat down if necessary to submerge. Refrigerate until the liquid forms a stiff gel.

4. To serve, spoon the aspic from the terrine or warm the casserole or mold to loosen the gel and then gently turn the aspic onto a platter. Decorate with a few whole parsley leaves. Serve it in slices.

Cornelia Carlson, an inveterate herb gardener, has a Ph.D. in biochemistry. She is the author of The Practically Meatless Gourmet (Berkley, 1996) and a contributor to Nutrition Secrets of the Ancients (Prima, 1996).

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