An alternative Christmas dinner with Parma Ham

I bet I can guess your Christmas menu… roast turkey, gammon ham, perhaps a roast beef? Accompanied by roast potatoes, brussel sprouts, parsnips and gravy. Am I close? And there’s certainly nothing wrong with that but after you read this post, you might want to consider adding a pork Wellington with Parma Ham and red wine jus to your Christmas dinner menu!

I was invited by Parma Ham to a festive cooking class with Chef Bridget Colvin at The Good Housekeeping Institute Cookery School in Soho, London. Bridget is an accomplished chef and recipe developer who works with Michel Roux Jr at Cactus Kitchens and regularly works with Jimmy Doherty, Gennaro Contaldo and Jamie Oliver. Assisting Chef Bridget was Chef Chris who is based in Scotland and travelled down especially for the cookery class.

Chef Bridget and Chef Chris

We started with dessert, which was a vanilla and clementine Panna Cotta as it needed to set in the fridge. Chefs Bridget and Chris demonstrated how to make it and then we were asked to pair up with a cooking buddy for the evening. I was lucky to work with the lovely Vicky of Dalton Banks who I’d met before at another cooking event at Le Cordon Bleu. Vicky and I took turns with all the steps and filled the glasses, then placed them in the fridge to set. I had heard that Panna Cotta is fairly easy to make but I’d never tried making it before. I will now as it really was simple!

Making panna cotta

Due to the amount of time it takes to prepare the pork Wellington, Chefs Bridget and Chris had already prepared the ones we were to eat after the class but they showed us the process. Brown the pork fillet in a pan and set aside to cool. Then lay a large sheet of cling film on the work surface and place 5 slices of Parma Ham in the middle, overlapping them slightly to create a rectangle. Next, spread the mushroom duxelle (made earlier) evenly over the Parma Ham and place the pork tenderloin at the end. Start rolling the Parma Ham over the pork, wrap tightly in the cling film and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Rolling the pork tenderloin in the Parma Ham

Once the pork has chilled, roll out the pastry and brush it with some beaten egg. Then add fresh sage and grated Parmesan to it, fold over and roll again. Remove the cling film from the pork and place on to the pastry, wrap the pastry around the pork and seal with some beaten egg. Then trim the excess pastry and brush with the remainder of the egg. The pork Wellington then needs 25 – 30 minutes to cook in the over.

Pork Wellington before it goes in to the oven

We were then shown how to make pumpkin seed soda bread which would form our starter of bruschetta topped with roasted butternut squash, chestnuts and Parma Ham. The bread was so easy to make, which is great because I like cooking that’s not complicated. Vicky kindly let me knead the bread, which is pretty good exercise for your biceps!

Making pumpkin seed soda bread

Whilst our bread was baking, we each took a slice of bread made earlier and topped it with the roasted butternut, chestnuts, figs, blue cheese, Parma Ham and rocket and then sat down to eat. It was absolutely delicious! And for once I was actually quite impressed with my plate dressing skills.

Pumpkin seed bruschetta with Parma Ham

The bruschetta was so filling and I was wondering how I was going to fit in pork Wellington with roast potatoes and spiced orange and cranberry red cabbage but when it was placed on the table, I couldn’t wait to get stuck in. There were ‘oohs and aahs’ from the entire table of fellow bloggers – and lots of cameras snapping away, of course.

Accompaniments for Pork Wellington

Pork Wellington

Cutting in to the pork Wellington

I can’t tell you how DELICIOUS everything was! The pork was so moist too and not a soggy pastry bottom in sight. I was absolutely stuffed but we still had the Panna Cotta to eat! But first we needed to dress it with roasted figs, clementine segments and a honey-glazed Parma Ham crisp (yes, really). Again, I was pretty pleased with my dressing skills.

Panna Cotta with honey glazed Parma Ham

I had such a fabulous time and learnt so much. It was also lovely to see some familiar faces at the event and to meet some new fellow bloggers. I really can’t wait to recreate these dishes at home!

Festive cooking with Parma Ham & Chef Bridget Colvin

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