|Jacques Pépin Celebrates!: Episode
#205: Graduation Special
A family friend is graduating from college, and Jacques and Claudine need no better excuse to create a splendid al fresco buffet dinner. There's delicate HOME-SMOKED TROUT WITH A CREAMY EGG AND PEPPER SALAD -- just right for a sunny June afternoon. And Jacques' classic CHICKEN GALANTINE -- a boneless chicken stuffed with pork, black mushrooms, pistachios and armagnac, poached in a rich stock and served in its own aspic -- might just be the world's most elegant picnic food. A succulent BAKED HAM with a tangy apricot-mustard glaze and a deep, sweet-savory peach sauce is an impressive do -- ahead entrée for a party. Jacques pairs it with a simple side dish of BUTTERED SWISS CHARD. For the cheese course, he shows Claudine how to make creamy fresh-herb FROMAGE BLANC served with roasted garlic and garnished with a beautiful trompe l'oeil coral branch. Two show-stopping desserts complete the buffet. CHOCOLATE CLOUD CAKE is a spectacular layered confection, with the contrasting textures of fluffy sponge cake, cognac whipped cream and crunchy chocolate cookie crust, all topped with a bittersweet chocolate glaze. And CHERRY RASPBERRY PILLOW is the "summa cum laude" of summer fruit desserts -- fresh cherries and berries baked in a freeform puff-pastry pie. It's a dazzling array of delectable dishes with just the right touch of pomp and circumstance to mark one of life's proudest moments.
Ham Georgia with Peach Garnish
Yield: 16 to 18 servings
1 fully-cooked ham (16 to 17 pounds)
1/2 cup peach preserves
2 tablespoons dried mustard
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 cup water, for deglazing drippings from baked ham
3 cups demi-glace
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 pounds peaches (about 10), each cut into 8 wedges
1/3 cup sugar
4 ounces dried peaches, cut into 1/2-inch slices
4 cups combined demi-glace and deglazed ham drippings (see above)
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon potato starch, dissolved in 1 tablespoon water (for thickening, if needed)
1 cup julienned basil leaves
1. Put the ham in a large stockpot and fill the pot with enough cold water to cover the ham. Bring the water to 170 to 180 degrees (below the boil; if boiled, the ham will crack open at the joint). Cook at that temperature for 3 hours.
2. Lift the shank bone partially from the water to test for doneness. Next to the large shank bone there is a second smaller bone. With pliers, twist this small second bone, and pull it out. If it comes out in one piece, the ham is ready; if it doesn't, cook the ham another hour. Let cool in the cooking water.
3. When ready to proceed with the recipe, remove the ham from the water. With a knife, remove the skin from the ham, and trim the surface of the meat where it is brown and skinlike around the shank bone. To make carving easier later on, remove the pelvis or hip bone by running a knife around it. When the skin has been removed, trim off all but a thin layer of white fat from the surface of the ham. The skin and white fat can be used as an enrichment in stews or soups or for cooking with pea beans, black beans, or split peas.
4. Run the point of your knife in a criss-cross pattern through the remaining fat on the top of the ham, cutting slightly into the surface of the meat. This scoring will help the glaze adhere to the meat while it cooks. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
5. For the peach-mustard glaze: In a small bowl, mix together the preserves, pepper, mustard, balsamic vinegar, and cloves. Spread this coating on the top surface of the ham, place it in a roasting pan, and bake in the 350-degree oven for 30 minutes. Reduce the heat to 325 degrees, and continue cooking the ham for 1 hour and 30 minutes, a total roasting time of 2 hours. Transfer the ham to a platter, and set it aside in a warm place while you make the peach sauce. Pour off the accumulated fat in the roasting pan, and add 1 cup of water to the drippings in the pan, stirring to loosen and mix in the solidified juices. Add the demi-glace, and bring to a boil. Reserve for use in the peach sauce.
6. For the peach sauce: Heat the butter in two large skillets, 2 tablespoons of butter per skillet. When it is hot, add half the peach wedges to each skillet, and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes. Sprinkle with the sugar, dividing it between the skillets, and continue cooking for 3 to 4 minutes longer. Add the dried peach julienne and the vinegar, half to each skillet, and stir to mix. Combine the contents of both skillets in one saucepan. Strain the reserved demi-glace mixture over the peaches, and stir in the salt. If the sauce is thinner than you would like, add the dissolved potato starch, and bring to a boil. Boil 1 or 2 minutes. At serving time, stir in the basil.
7. To serve: To make carving easier, make a vertical cut down into the ham approximately 1 inch above the shank bone. The object is to make a guard that your knife will not go beyond when you slice the ham; this will give a clean bottom edge to the slices and also protect your hand from the knife in case it happens to slide while you are slicing the meat. Slice the ham on the bias, stopping at the cut edge, and arrange the meat on a warm platter. Serve three or four slices of ham per person with a few slices of the peaches and the sauce spooned around and over the meat.