Cooking with Parsley: Ham in Parsley Aspic

<em>Serves 6 to 12</em>
<p>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.</p>
<p>• 5-pound ham (shank or butt) with bone<br />
• Water<br />
• 2 cups dry white wine<br />
• 1 medium onion, sliced<br />
• 1 teaspoon chopped thyme<br />
• 3 bay leaves<br />
• 1 carrot, sliced<br />
• 1 stalk celery, sliced<br />
• 1 leek, sliced<br />
• 2 cups chopped flat-leaved parsley, plus a few whole leaves for garnish<br />
• 2 packages unflavored gelatin</p>
<p>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.</p>
<p>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.</p>
<p>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.</p>
<p>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.</p>
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<em>Cornelia Carlson, an inveterate herb gardener, has a Ph.D. in biochemistry. She is the author of</em> The Practically Meatless Gourmet <em>(Berkley, 1996) and a contributor to</em> Nutrition Secrets of the Ancients<em> (Prima, 1996).</em>
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