This is a recipe that can be dressed up or down for any occasion. Ham hock terrine or jambon persillé (parsley ham) can be made into an elegant layered terrine fit for a king’s table, or simply set in a rustic bowl.
It’s a mosaic of home-cooked ham and fresh parsley, held together with a savoury jelly. The secret is to have just enough jelly to hold the meat and herbs together. The savoury jelly was originally made by cooking veal bones and trotters with the ham, which produced good gelatinous stock that set when chilled. Nowadays we can use gelatine to set the stock in which the ham is cooked. I find leaf gelatine easier to use, but you can use powdered (use 1/2 x 11.7g sachet).
Ham hocks are delicious and are cheap as chips – buy them at your local butcher. They make a good flavoursome stock and aren’t too salty. However, to check the saltiness, cut off a little piece of the raw ham and cook in boiling water until tender, then taste. If it’s too salty, soak the ham hocks in several changes of cold water, overnight.
This classic French recipe varies from region to region, but it’s a good idea always to include cornichons or baby gherkins in the terrine, as their texture makes a wonderful foil for the soft jelly.
Serve with a little dressing and, if you like, lots of crusty French bread, salad leaves and a good chilled white wine.
1. You will need 2 ham hocks or gammon knuckles weighing about 1kg each, 2 carrots, 2 celery sticks, 1 onion, 10 peppercorns, 60g fresh parsley, 170g jar cornichons (baby gherkins) and 2 gelatine leaves. Test the ham for saltiness. Put the ham into a large saucepan, with the halved carrots, celery sticks, halved onion and peppercorns. Cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 3 hours until very tender. Remove the ham from the pan and set aside. Allow the stock to cool.
2. Meanwhile, line a 900g loaf tin. Lay out a large sheet of cling film on a work surface, then another sheet slightly overlapping the first, to give you 1 very large layer. Repeat with 2 more layers, smoothing out each one, so you have triple thickness. Wet the inside of the loaf tin and fit in the cling film, leaving the excess overhanging.
3. Once the ham is cold, tear the meat off the bone into strips and discard as much fat as you can. There’s no need to chop the meat. Put into a large bowl. Take the leaves off the parsley stalks and roughly chop the leaves. Quarter the cornichons lengthways, then roughly chop. Mix it all together and spoon into the lined loaf tin.
4. Soak the gelatine in plenty of cold water for about 5 minutes. Measure 300ml cooking stock and put into a saucepan and warm through. Take the gelatine out of the water and squeeze out the excess water. Drop into the cooking stock, off the heat, and stir until melted. Leave to cool.
5. Transfer the cooled stock back into the measuring jug and carefully pour into the loaf tin. Carefully wrap the overhanging cling film over itself to seal in the terrine.
6. Cut a piece of card large enough to just cover the terrine, then wrap in foil. Lay on top of the sealed terrine, then wrap the loaf tin tightly in more cling film. Put in the fridge to set overnight. The terrine will keep for up to 6 days in the fridge. Serves 12.