I've been to Chablis, in Burgundy, twice over the past three or four years. I was glad to get a chance to see the village, not only because it's pretty but because the Chablis area produces one of the best Chardonnay wines — one of the finest white wines — in France.
I even had a very nice meal at a restaurant in Chablis, and I blogged about it here. I also wrote a blog post about Chablis wines. Chardonnay wines as made in France are some of my favorites, which is too bad since the premier white wine grape here in the Loire and Cher valleys is Sauvignon Blanc. Luckily, one winery that I like (but only one) also sells locally grown and vinified Chardonnay.
Jambon à la chablisienne
That said, I'd never heard of this special ham dish made in and named for Chablis — jambon à la chablisienne — until just a few days ago. I found it on a food blog, of course. A Canadian blog, from Edmonton, Alberta, called Eating is the Hard Part. Maybe you know it. Thanks to The Celiac Husband for introducing it to me.
Here's a link to the YouTube video where I first saw Chablis-style ham. It's a segment the American food personality Tony Bourdain taped in Burgundy, featuring local specialties including Oeufs à la meurette, Jambon à la chablisienne, and very runny Epoisses and Chaource cheeses — as well as a French chef named Ludo Lefebvre and his grandmother.
I've made eggs in meurette sauce before and blogged about that too. Bourdain said on his show that he'd never eaten Eggs Meurette before, which surprised me. His family was French, even though he seems thoroughly American.
Yesterday I bought some thick slices of good "white" or "Paris" ham — called jambon blanc or jambon de Paris — from our mobile butcher and made the jambon chablisienne for lunch. If you can get good French ham, buy that rather than packaged sandwich ham. You want thick slices. Here's the recipe, which is pretty simple:
Jambon à la chablisienne
4 tranches de jambon blanc coupées assez épaisses
20 cl de chablis (ou d'un autre vin blanc sec)
1 feuille de laurier
50 cl de crème fraîche épaisse
1 c. à café de fécule de pommes de terre (ou de maïs)
1 petite boîte de concentré de tomates
Dans une poêle, chauffez tout doucement votre échalote émincée dans très peu d'huile ou de beurre.
Lorsque l'échalote est translucide, ajoutez le vin blanc. Faites réduire à feu moyen de moitié (ou même plus).
Ajoutez le concentré de tomates et mélangez bien. Ajoutez ensuite la crème fraîche et mélangez à nouveau jusqu'à ce que la sauce soit homogène. Salez un peu et poivrez.
Ajoutez les tranches de jambon roulées, recouvrez-les de sauce et laissez sur feu très doux 5 minutes avant de servir.
Walt and I both thought the ham was delicious prepared this way. You end up with a lot of cream sauce, so it's good to plan a side dish that is good with such sauce — steamed potatoes, rice, or pasta, with a green vegetable like broccoli — if you want to make a whole meal out of it. We had savory rice pudding and braised lettuce and radish leaves with our ham.
The cream sauce, thickened with just a small amount of potato starch, is gluten-free.
One extra ingredient I added to the sauce was a tablespoon of the North African hot pepper paste called harissa, because we both like our food a little spicy. The harissa gave the cream/tomato sauce a nice little boost.