This is one of my favourite meals, delicious served with butter beans and a purée of swede.
It is very difficult to know in advance the saltiness of a piece of ham. I tend always to buy mine from the same source so that I know what to expect. If in doubt, it is best to cover the ham in cold water and soak it for several hours or overnight.
To cook, place the ham in a large pan and cover with fresh cold water. Add the bay leaves, peppercorns, celery stick and some stalks of parsley from the bunch allowed for the sauce. Cut the onions in half (there is no need to peel as the skins add flavour), and chop the carrots into chunks or sticks and add these to the pan. Bring to the boil and simmer gently, removing any scum as it forms, for 20 to 25 minutes per
To make the sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan, add the flour and cook for 1 minute. Add the ham stock and whisk well, then add the milk gradually, whisking well between each addition. Add a little more ham stock until you have a good pouring consistency. Check the seasoning – you will need a little white pepper but, depending on the saltiness of the ham, you may not require additional salt. Stir in the chopped parsley.
Lift the ham from the pan and peel off the skin. Serve with some of the onions and carrots, the butter beans and potatoes. Pour over the parsley sauce.
© 1988 Keith Floyd estate. All rights reserved.