Quiche Lorraine from Lorraine; choucroute from Alsace; bouillabaisse in Marseille, tapenade in Provence, aligote in the Averone.... The French love their food and almost every region in France has a dish that evokes bosom-swelling pride amongst locals.
Here in Burgundy we are lucky enough to have a number of recipes that jostle for the position for the regional dish gold medal.
Boeuf Bourguignon, Oeufs en Meurette and snails all make the podium, but the often sidelined Jambon Persille is one of my Burgundian favourites. Hunks of dense ham set in a porky flavoured parsley and garlic jelly. There are few better foods to wheel out at a cycling picnic in Burgundy and the humble Jambon Persille could not be more historic.
The Ediun tribes who roamed Burgundy, before the Romans took over, were master charcutier. With an abundance of wild pigs in their forests pork was on ready supply and with the salt mines of the Jura not far away, archaeological studies tell us that the Gauls were masters of curing and preserving meat and game.
The Roman army, arriving in Burgundy around 200 BC, introduced the other key ingredients to this recipe. Romans legionaries would tuck sprigs of parsley in their togas for protection and garlic was given to foot solders to stay healthy as well as to ward of evil spirits. With all these ingredients coming together it is no wonder that Jambon Persille was born.
Eaten today at picnic in the vines or as a starter the good stuff is a real treat and fills any gap left from a morning cycling i the vines of Burgundy.
700g of salted ham hock
1 small onion
1 bundle or fresh parsley, well chopped
2 sheets of gelatine
2 bay leaves
3 cloves of garlic
sprig of thyme
sprig of rosemary.
2 glasses of dry white wine.
1, Put the ham hocks in a large pan and cover with water. Bring to the boil and simmer for one hour.
2. Skim all the grotty foam off the surface of the water and drain the ham hocks. Rinse the pan and recover with cold water. Add the onion, thy e, rosemary and bay leaf and bring to a gentle boil. Leave to simmer for 3 hours until your house smells wonderful and the meat falls away from the bone.
3. Take the hocks from the water and set aside to cool. Add the wine to the remaining water. Continue to simmer until the liquid has reduced by half.
4. In the mean time soak the gelatine leaves in cold water.
5,Brush the garlic into a mixing bowl. Add the chopped garlic and mix through with your fingers. In a terrine, pudding basin of mason jar add a good layer of the garlic and parsley mix.
6. Break up the cooked pork in your fingers in to chunky finger sized pieces, and discard any slimy bits. Mix through with ground black pepper and then layer all the meat on top of the garlic and parsley and gently push down with your fingers.
7. Add the gelatine to the cooking liquid and stir until dissolved. Strain the liquid through a fine sieve and pour over the layered meat until covered. Add a weight on top of and refrigerate over night.
8. To serve turn the bowl upside down on a plate and tap unitil it comes loose. Serve with conichon and a crisp glass of Les Grechons, Ladoix Premier Cru from Bertrand Ambroise.