Smithfield Ham and Veal Rolls

Smithfield, Virginia, has been considered the undisputed birthplace of Southern-style country hams for at least three hundred years, and today, still, a legal statute protecting the tradition dictates that a genuine Smithfield ham must be cured, treated, smoked, and processed within the small town’s borders. Of course, producers of ham from the commercial giant Gwaltney to the smallest farmer have come up with every way imaginable to cook the noble ham and use it in numerous recipes, but nothing impressed me more on one of my visits to the area than the way the mother of a relatively minor ham producer teamed the ham with veal to make these delectable rolls fit for the most distinguished formal dinner. Since Smithfield hams can be exorbitantly expensive these days, by all means feel free, as I do, to substitute any respectable baked country ham.

Ingredients

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter
  • ½ cup finely chopped scallions (white and light green parts)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups soft bread crumbs
  • 1 cup finely chopped parsley leaves
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons chicken broth
  • Four boneless veal steaks (about 2 pounds)
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • ½ pound thinly sliced cooked Smithfield ham
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • ½ cup dry white wine

Method

Preheat the oven to 325°F.

In a large skillet, melt the butter over moderate heat, add the scallions and garlic, and cook, stirring, till softened, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the bread crumbs, parsley, egg, and broth, stir till well blended, and set aside.

With a mallet or rolling pin, pound the veal steaks to a ½-inch thickness, spread each with equal amounts of mustard, and top each with a ham slice. Roll up jelly-roll style and secure with wooden toothpicks. Place the rolls, seam side down, on a rack in a shallow baking pan, brush each with melted butter, and bake till tender, 30 to 35 minutes.

Transfer the rolls to a serving platter, remove the toothpicks, and cut each into ½-inch slices. Add the wine to the pan over moderately high heat, stir to loosen the pan drippings, and pour over the slices.