Hardeep Singh Kohli: Parma ham recipe
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Hardeep Singh Kohli confesses to a porcine passion and shares his own recipe for a classic Parma ham dish
Gammon. Pork. Ham. For me the holiest of trinities. Each has its own application, each offers joy unbounded, each leaves me serenely satisfied and wanting only of the next nexus with the glorious meat of the pig.
While I respect my Muslim and Jewish sisters and brothers, I will always feel a certain sorrow that they will never be allowed to enjoy what Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall refers to as the 'King of Meats'. I love pork.
I think it's the vast array of tastes and flavours that a single animal can offer. I'm not sure any animal is honoured with such an array of different cooking and curing methods. I was a fan of the pig long before I met Charlie Hodson, leading light and the visionary behind the Porkstock Festival. Porkstock is a relatively new annual Norfolk-based food gathering and in a little under five years has grown exponentially.
To say Charlie is evangelical about pork is unfair on evangelicalism. We speak almost weekly and invariably about the meat of the pig. He's a magician when it comes to creating new dishes. He spends summers over in the south of France and he posted a picture of a fig tree in full bloom. It was nothing short of an inspiration.
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There's something about pork and fruit. Gooseberries, rhubarb, apple, pear – the list is somewhat endless. And while it is counter-intuitive to combine sweet fruit with sweet pork, there is always a sharpness in the fruit that marries best with pork. Cured pork manages to make the sweetness and the saltiness work well with Parma ham pulling off this sweety/salty combination with porcine aplomb. The delicate, thinly-cut strands of sumptuousness almost melt in the mouth.
I do love Parma ham. Much as I love a fig. There's an earthy, almost ethereal sweetness to a fig, a natural nuttiness that combines completely with the perfect Parma.
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8 slices of Parma ham
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp runny honey
the juice of half a lemon
a handful of basil leaves
salt and fresh black pepper
Figs are best torn rather than cut. They break along the natural fault lines of flavour. Tear the figs into a few chunks. Similarly tear the ham and adorn the fruit with the meat. Yes, I really did just say that. In a mortar and pestle take a third of the basil leaves and bash to kingdom come with some salt. The salt acts as an abrasive rather than a seasoning in this instance. Then add the olive oil, lemon juice, honey and black pepper. This is your dressing. Toss the remaining basil leaves with the ham and figs and dress. Eat immediately. Enjoy immediately.
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