17 October 2012

Jambon à la chablisienne

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
1 échalote
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.


  1. Disjointed comments.

    I should google it of course, but I wonder if jamon is the same as what the English eat, gamon. I wasn't particularly impressed.

    I remember having a glass of chablis when I was young and it was so so dry, I couldn't drink it. I expect I could now.

  2. Andrew, I don't know what gamon is, though I have heard the word. French jambon blanc can be very good.

    Chablis and other French Chardonnay wines are very dry. But then so are Sauvignon Blanc wines. In the U.S., the term "chablis" got a very bad reputation because all manner of cheap white (California) wines were labeled as Chablis (just as all red wines were labeled Burgundy). Reals chablis is often quite good.

  3. It's gammon, with two Ms, evidently. Maybe some of the expats or other English readers can enlighten...

  4. This sauce looks pretty good and as easy to make, I guess, as "meurette. And certainly as delicious. I tried once a meurette sauce with white wine instead of red and it was very good, but different. Both are basically the same.

  5. Love the video with stinky cheeses- made me very homesick for France though.

  6. Ken, what would you recommend for the cream, here in the U.S.? Should I try sour cream? use heavy cream? or try to make a crème fraiche?

    I have some Pinot Grigio left over from a party a couple of days ago... you think it would work?

    Looks super duper, and I want to try it!

  7. I wouldn't say gammon was the same as jambon de Paris, if I've remembered that right. I'm no expert, but gammon would be a ham joint or a thick slice, but of a coarser texture than I think I remember jambon de Paris to be - and probably much saltier in flavour too. It may be a different cut or different cure.

  8. Judy, if you use sour cream, make sure it doesn't boil because it will curdle. Use heavy cream and maybe add a little more starch to make it thicken, or cook it longer before putting the ham in.

    Autolycus, thanks. I think gammon is what we would call a ham steak in the US -- a much thicker slice of ham, and yes, saltier. The jambon de Paris is very delicate, when it's good.

    Evelyn, :^) and yes I understand.

    CHM, try the ham with cream sauce. It's very good, and it would be good with eggs along with the ham (or lardons) too.

  9. Gammon is traditional english salt-cured ham, originally made to last the winter. It's eaten hot, usually boiled or pan roast. I always soaked it overnight, or brought it to the boil, threw out the water and cooked it in fresh water with five white peppercorns and a bayleaf. It may not be subtle, but that depends on your pig! Pauline

  10. Pauline, thanks, I'm sure that gammon can be good if prepared right (de-salted, etc.), but I don't think it's the same thing as jambon blanc in France. Or as ham steak in the US.

    Judy, by the way, I think the Pinot Grigio would work fine (as long as it's dry).

  11. The sauce in the first and last photo seems to be a different color that the one in the middle. Is it a different sauce?

  12. No Starman, just lighting I guess. Same sauce.

  13. What t'wife failed to mention was the gammon slice... this is grilled on both sides for a few minutes and a ring of pineapple is added to the second side for a minute or two under a low grill. This is then served with buttered petit pois and mashed potato... the juice/grease from the grill pan being poured into a well in the middle of the mash.
    A dollpop of Coleman's Superfine mustard completes the quintessential British meal... ice cream for dessert of course.

  14. Leave off the pineapple, Tim, and that sounds like a good lunch.

  15. Why would you write the whole article in English then post the recipe in French? I don't speak, write or read French.

  16. Why would you write the entire article in English then podtvthe recipe in French? I can't read it.

  17. Unknown commenter, you can use Google's translation feature or some other. It's not hard to do if you really want the recipe:

    Ham in Chablis

    4 slices of ham cut thick enough
    1 shallot
    20cl Chablis (or other dry white wine)
    1 bay leaf
    50 cl of crème fraîche
    1 c. coffee potato starch (or corn)
    1 small can tomato paste

    In a pan, heat gently minced shallot in your very little oil or butter.

    When the shallots are translucent, add the white wine. Let reduce by half over medium heat (or even more).

    Add the tomato paste and mix well. Then add the cream and beat again until the sauce is smooth. A little salt and pepper.

    Add slices of ham rolled, cover with sauce and leave on very low heat 5 minutes before serving.


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