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SWISS_CHEF

Bocuse's Ham in Hay

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I have watched a documentary about Paul Bocuse on Youtube

(the part about the ham in hay begins at 6:48 minutes into the video and after a short interruption, ends at 8:37). He simmers a ham in a huge pot with hay and mint or tarragon for four hours.

Does anyone have any more information/experience with this cooking method? It is so remarkably rustic that I am dying to try it.

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There's not much more than meet the eyes. Cocotte lutée, foin inside, very hot oven. Passard does it with chicken. It rocks.

Hmm, sounds different. Bocuse simmers his ham for four hours. I'm wondering if he brines it first? Salts the water? What kind of ham? Maybe it is lightly smoked first? Does he cover the entire ham with water? Serve it hot or cold? Accompanying dishes?

I find that when great chefs like Paul boil a ham and make a big ceremony, there is usually something more to it than meets the eye. Maybe I should ask Paul.

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I find that when great chefs like Paul boil a ham and make a big ceremony, there is usually something more to it than meets the eye. Maybe I should ask Paul.

In my experience there is often less than meets the eyes. Simplicity is the mark of a great chef. The important part here is to get the ingredients right. Bocuse insists on mountain hay. I think foin de Crau, which is used by some chefs and can be bought as an ingredient, would be perfectly suited.

Here is the recipe:

1 ham on the bone, half-cooked (<--- hence already brined, but partially debrined by first cooking)

Hay (no quantities, enough to copiously line the pan and copiously cover the ham

Water

In a large saucepan or cocotte, put a thick layer of hay, put ham on top, cover with a thick layer of hay. Cover with water. Boil. Lower heat, cover and cook at a bare simmer for 20 minutes per pound of ham. Let cool in cooking water until serving time.

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...

Hmm, sounds different. Bocuse simmers his ham for four hours. I'm wondering if he brines it first? Salts the water? ...

Of course it must be pre-cured, otherwise you'd have boiled leg of pork, rather than ham... :smile:

Use of curing salts (nitrates and nitrites) is not something to be covered lightly. Old/traditional recipes often use them astonishingly heavily! The recommendation is to use "an approved recipe".

The usual thing is to have the ham so well salted (and here I'm referring to ordinary salt) that it may need pre-soaking.

Salting the poaching liquor really should not be called for.

Tasting it for excess salt during cooking, and diluting if appropriate, is a good idea. (Conventionally, whatever aromatics would only be added after one was sure that the salting was appropriate.)

In this instance, the cure, the size of the ham, and the size of the poaching pot all inter-relate as to how much pre-soaking might be needed. When it becomes routine, you (or the brigade) cease to worry about these 'first time' exploratory details!

Its quite normal to poach the cured meat in an aromatic broth. (Which can become a wonderful stock base for a lentil soup, as one example.) Using hay as the principal aromatic is certainly an interesting twist!

After the poaching, the ham might be skinned, basted and roasted to glaze - its not clear what M Bocuse's kitchen has done.

I couldn't read the thermometer (shown in the movie) in the poaching liquor. My feeling is that its best to be very gentle. Its only a small step from sous vide - the idea is to cook the meat uniformly through its thickness - without overcooking the outside. The literature is full of timing rules to adjust for the size and weight of the ham, but the sensible thing is to monitor the internal temperature of the ham, as well as the liquid. I'd suggest a peak core temperature of mid 60's Centigrade (adjust that to your taste and regulations), with a maximum broth temperature in the very low 70's.


"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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In my experience there is often less than meets the eyes. Simplicity is the mark of a great chef. The important part here is to get the ingredients right. Bocuse insists on mountain hay. I think foin de Crau, which is used by some chefs and can be bought as an ingredient, would be perfectly suited.

Here is the recipe:

1 ham on the bone, half-cooked (<--- hence already brined, but partially debrined by first cooking)

Hay (no quantities, enough to copiously line the pan and copiously cover the ham

Water

In a large saucepan or cocotte, put a thick layer of hay, put ham on top, cover with a thick layer of hay. Cover with water. Boil. Lower heat, cover and cook at a bare simmer for 20 minutes per pound of ham. Let cool in cooking water until serving time.

Thank you Ptipois, is this actually Paul's recipe or your version?


Edited by SWISS_CHEF (log)

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Of course it must be pre-cured, otherwise you'd have boiled leg of pork, rather than ham...  :smile:

Use of curing salts (nitrates and nitrites) is not something to be covered lightly. Old/traditional recipes often use them astonishingly heavily! The recommendation is to use "an approved recipe".

The usual thing is to have the ham so well salted (and here I'm referring to ordinary salt) that it may need pre-soaking.

Salting the poaching liquor really should not be called for.

Tasting it for excess salt during cooking, and diluting if appropriate, is a good idea. (Conventionally, whatever aromatics would only be added after one was sure that the salting was appropriate.)

In this instance, the cure, the size of the ham, and the size of the poaching pot all inter-relate as to how much pre-soaking might be needed. When it becomes routine, you (or the brigade) cease to worry about these 'first time' exploratory details!

Its quite normal to poach the cured meat in an aromatic broth. (Which can become a wonderful stock base for a lentil soup, as one example.) Using hay as the principal aromatic is certainly an interesting twist!

After the poaching, the ham might be skinned, basted and roasted to glaze - its not clear what M Bocuse's kitchen has done.

I couldn't read the thermometer (shown in the movie) in the poaching liquor. My feeling is that its best to be very gentle. Its only a small step from sous vide - the idea is to cook the meat uniformly through its thickness - without overcooking the outside. The literature is full of timing rules to adjust for the size and weight of the ham, but the sensible thing is to monitor the internal temperature of the ham, as well as the liquid. I'd suggest a peak core temperature of mid 60's Centigrade (adjust that to your taste and regulations), with a maximum broth temperature in the very low 70's.

Yes. It seems to me that there are so many variables that will have wildly varying effects on the finished product. No doubt you can do it a lot of ways but with a dish like this you could eat up a fortune in pork legs before getting it perfectly dialed in. It would be nice to know exactly how Paul does his.

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Thank you Ptipois, is this actually Paul's recipe or your version?

It is Monsieur Paul's version, according to the topic. Otherwise I'd have mentioned it was a reconstruction or my own version.


Edited by Ptipois (log)

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Thank you Ptipois, is this actually Paul's recipe or your version?

It is Monsieur Paul's version, according to the topic. Otherwise I'd have mentioned it was a reconstruction or my own version.

Thanks Ptipois! I will have to try it with Swiss mountain hay.

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