This is classic comfort food. I remember my mother making it when I was a little girl and it’s always been a favourite. I prefer boiled (actually simmered) ham to roast ham – it is sweet, juicy and tender and makes a surprisingly light-tasting meal, not at all stodgy. Try to save some to eat cold next day!
Boiled Ham With Parsley Sauce
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 (or a bottle of cider)
For the sauce:
The leaves from the bunch of parsley
50g plain flour
600-700 ml milk, warmed with a peeled onions and a few peppercorns
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 (or a bottle of cider topped up with cold water). 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. Strain the milk and keep warm. In another saucepan, melt the butter then 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 fresh parsley.
Drain the ham; check the stock and if it’s not too salty save it to make a soup or the basis for a pork stew.
Allow the ham to rest for 15-20 minutes somewhere warm, then carve it in thickish slices and serve with the parsley sauce. It’s good with boiled potatoes and steamed cabbage or spring greens.
NB: if you’re cooking it to eat cold, let it cool in the stock, it’ll keep it juicy. If, unlike mine, yours still has the skin on, just peel it off, leaving behind a layer of fat and then roll it in toasted breadcrumbs.