We are having typical autumn weather for this corner of spain, quite cold evenings when you want the wood oven in the kitchen lit for some cosy and warming kitchen suppers, while during the day the sun warms so well that lunch on the terrace is the thing and you want to eat something light that reminds you of summer. With one ham I recently managed to create a meal of each type. Warm thick slices of the ham served with a mustard sauce and lentils for a snug supper, and then a couple of days later the same ham cold and cut into thin slices for a carpaccio with mustard viniagrette. Both dishes went down very well with my guests.
It isn’t possible to buy an uncooked joint of ham in this part of Spain, so we have to cure our own. I have some salts that were a gift from some lovely butchers in Ireland which I mix with brown sugar and black peppercorns to get a spicy joint of ham.
So the ham has been curing for five days and friends are coming for dinner this evening. This will be the first hearty type meal of the season and is very easy as it is all cooked in the one pot except for finishing the sauce at the end.
Joint of raw ham
200 grams lentils – either puy or pardina
1 large or 2 small onions
Olive oil for frying
500 ml light stock
2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
2 tablespoons cream
Peel and slice the onions. Peel the carrots and cut them into cubes.
Heat some oil in a frying pan and fry the carrots and onions for ten minutes.
Put the ham joint into a pan into which it fits quite snugly. Add the fried vegetables. Put some of the stock in the frying pan to take up the brownings in the pan and add this to the ham. Put more stock in the pan to just cover the meat.
Bring slowly to the boil. Add the lentils and cook very slowly for one and a half hours.
Once cooked remove the joint of ham to a carving board and keep warm. Strain the stock from the lentils and vegetables, but not until they are very dry, they still want some moisture in them. Put the vegetables in a warm serving dish and keep warm while you make the sauce and carve the meat.
To make the sauce, put some of the stock that the ham and vegetables have cooked in into a saucepan. When I made this last it was about half the stock or about 200ml. Add a tablespoon of whole grain mustard and a tablespoon of double cream. Mix in well. Slowly bring to a simmer. The mustard and cream should be enough to thicken the sauce to a creamy but pouring consistency. if it is a bit thin, then add more of the mustard and cream.
Serve the sliced ham with the sauce poured over.
Left over cold ham cut into thin as you can slices. Arrange these on dinner plates covering the whole plate as one does for carpaccio.
Left over mustard sauce to which you add 2 tablespoons of good extra virgin olive oil and a tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice. Mix all together well and then spoon/drizzle over the ham.
Parmesan cheese which you shave over the plates of ham.