Ham With Parsley Sauce

Image of cooked, sliced ham served with parsley sauce and veg

This is classic comfort food. I remember my mother making it when I was a little girl and it’s always been a favourite.  The ham will be sweet, juicy and tender and it’s a surprisingly light-tasting meal, not at all stodgy. Try to save some to eat cold next day!

Boiled Ham With Parsley Sauce

  • Servings: 4+ some to eat cold
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Image of uncooked ham with a bowl of vegetables for the stock

1 kg smoked gammon or ham, tied in a round

1 peeled onion, 2 sticks of celery and 2 peeled carrots, chopped

Stalks from a big bunch of parsley

6-8 black peppercorns

1-2 bay leaves


Apple juice

Image of chopped parsley and a mezza luna

For the sauce:

The leaves from the bunch of parsley

50g butter

50g plain flour

600-700 ml milk

Salt and pepper

(I like my sauce thick and with lashings of parsley. If you want it thinner, try 25g each of butter and flour and 500ml of milk)


Put the ham in a large saucepan, cover with cold water, put on a lid and bring to the boil. Drain and discard the water. This ensures the ham won’t be too salty. It also gets rid of any scum early on – you shouldn’t need to skim it later.

Add the vegetables, the stalks from the parsley, the bay leaves and peppercorns to the pan with the ham and cover with 50-50 apple juice and water.

Image of ham in apple juice and water with stock veg

Bring to the boil again, reduce to a simmer, partially cover with a lid and cook for about an hour.

While it’s cooking, make the sauce. Melt the butter in a saucepan and gradually stir in the flour. Cook gently for a minute or so.

Gradually add the milk, stirring until smooth. Season and stir in at least a double handful of chopped parsley.

Drain the ham; check the stock and if it’s not too salty save it to make an apple and parsnip soup or the basis for a pork stew.

Image of ham being sliced

Allow the ham to rest for at least 10 minutes then carve it in thickish slices and serve with the parsley sauce.

Good with boiled potatoes and steamed cabbage or spring greens.

Image of ham cooked and sliced with sauce and veg



8 thoughts on “Ham With Parsley Sauce

  1. Brilliant, a proper traditional Suffolk dish – my dad loved this served with dumplings cooked in the stock.
    I make the stock up into pea soup, with bits of the ham scattered on top.
    I often boil up a big gammon – nothing ever goes to waste as my family love it cold for breakfast with eggs.

  2. I’m embarrassed to say I never knew the word gammon, only a vague sense of having seen it somewhere in Dickens. Thanks for the language lesson. Parsley bechamel! Something else I’ve never encountered–to be honest, I’ve never boiled a ham either–although all of this gives the impression of being good solid Sunday food. Now you’ve got me intrigued again. Thanks. Ken

  3. Sometimes the differences on either side of the Atlantic surprise me – these are both really traditional old English recipes, which I’d have half expected to travel on the Mayflower (although I can’t vouch for them going that far back). Boiling a ham comes into Hannah Glasse’s Art of Cookery, published in England in 1747, the first American edition being 1805.
    PS Technically, in UK terms, ham is first cut off the carcass and then smoked, salted or dried (or a combination of these) for preservation. Gammon is cured as part of a side of bacon and cut off afterwards. Not that anyone knows the difference really!

  4. Delicious. My dad’s favourite is parsley sauce but he has always had to make it himself as my mum detests it! Love a slice of ham, whether hot with chips and a runny egg or cold with cheese and chutney.

    • I know how he feels, we’re like Jack Spratt and his wife over pasta and liver (not together). He hates them, I love them, so I usually wait until he’s away before I indulge.
      Ham is so versatile, love it in a pie too. I really must stop eating so many pies.

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