Soho used to be renowned for its food shops. Perhaps the most picturesque of them was Randall & Aubin, a French charcuterie on Brewer Street.
The shop finally closed in the mid 1980s. There was a spirited but doomed attempt to revive it a few years later and it has now re-emerged as a rather good traiteur, selling excellent simple food to eat there or to take away. It is nice to see at least one premises continuing some of the area’s history and not being converted into a trendy bar. The shop in the 1970s was rather run-down with a dispiriting array of curled-up pâtés, terrines and sausages in the window, but even in decline they still made everything on the premises.
True jambon persillée is rather hard to get right: made in the traditional manner, it is almost impossible to serve neatly in slices (somewhat of a prerequisite for terrines); when extra gelatine is used to compensate, the dish becomes rubbery. This recipe takes advantage of the natural gelatine found in ham hocks; by shredding the meat it avoids the appearance of jelly or aspic which seems to so offend modern appetites; and it is cheap and easy to make.
Put the ham hocks to cook in enough water to safely cover them. When they come to a boil, taste the water and if it is at all salty drain them and start again with fresh water. The hocks should be cooked at a simmer until they have begun to fall off their bones. At the narrower, foot end of the hock there are two bones which, as the meat shrinks, will start to protrude; the smaller of these will pull out quite easily when the meat is fully cooked, probably about 2 hours. Remove the hocks from the water and set aside. Bring the water back to a boil and skim off any fat and scum that rise. Remove the stalks from the parsley and add them to the boiling stock, along with the peppercorns, bay leaf and wine. Continue boiling this stock until it has reduced to approximately
While the stock is reducing prepare the other ingredients. The gelatine should be left to soften in about
Traditionally jambon persillée is set in a bowl and turned out on a plate to present a pink and green glistening dome. This is fine if you expect it to be eaten at one sitting. If it is formed in an oblong mould, then slices can be cut without unmoulding. This is neater and exposes less of the terrine to air, thus minimising drying out. Whatever your choice of mould, the terrine needs to sit in the fridge for a minimum of 12 hours.
© 1999 Alastair Little. All rights reserved.