‘What Bertrand,’ said the prince, ‘you surely are not in earnest? Fifty hams! Do you wish then to treat my whole regiment ?’ ‘No, my prince only one of those hams will appear on the table; but the other forty nine are not the less necessary for flavouring, whitening, garnishing,’ &c &c. ‘Bertrand, you rob me, and this article shall not pass.’ ‘Ah monseigneur,’ said the artist with difficulty choking his rising choler; ‘you do not know our resources. You have but to order, and these fifty hams which now so much annoy you shall be dissolved into a crystal phial not bigger than my thumb.’ The prince laughed, signified assent by a nod of the head, and the charge for the fifty hams passed muster.’
Every chef should wish for such a master.
I have previously given you a recipe which requires essence of ham – an eighteenth century Rich Caper Sauce. Methinks it is unlikely that any of you would purchase forty nine hams to get some concentrated stock, so here is a different interpretation from one of my favourite sources, Domestic Economy, for rich and poor, by a lady (1827).
Essence of Ham.
Essence of ham is not expensive; so far the reverse, that there is much waste when it is not made: and when it is attended to, hams are always higher-flavoured. If cured at home more attention is paid to the manner of curing them, and also in the manner of cooking, in cleaning, and paring which is of more consequence to the flavour of the ham than is generally imagined. If they are cooked in wine ale or cider these liquors are not lost .When the ham is taken up, the essence is either to be immediately finished or put into a proper pan in a cold cellar till it is convenient; part of it of course will be reduced to glaze the ham. When the essence is to be finished take off the cake of fat, and reduce it to one third; strain it through a close wet linen bag while warm. As ham skin is excellent for covering meats that are braising they may also be put in from time to time in the stock pot, as they will dissolve and add to the flavour and richness of the sauce.
Quotation for the Day.
Where there is no extravagance there is no love, and where there is no love there is no understanding.