Parma Ham workshop at Le Cordon Bleu

A couple of weeks ago I was invited to a Le Cordon Bleu workshop as a guest of Parma Ham. Last year I attended the Parmigiano Reggiano workshop at the famous French cooking school, so I was both excited and delighted to be invited back.

We started the evening with some Prosecco and Parma Ham to taste and were told about Parma Ham by the lovely Georgie from Brand Dialogue. It’s a¬†Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) product and is produced in the hills surrounding the Italian town of Parma. It has to be cured for at least one year before it’s awarded the Ducal Crown firebrand.

We were very lucky to have Cuisine Chef David Duverger, who has worked as Head Chef at many London Michelin star restaurants, as our tutor for the evening. Chef David was very strict but also had a great sense of humour!

Chef David Duverger

For our workshop we were going to create two dishes using Parma Ham. The first was a starter of Parma Ham Creme Brulee with hazelnut, dried figs and coriander cress. The double cream is infused with Parma Ham on a low heat and a crumble of Parma Ham was made by baking it for about 5 to 10 minutes until it was really crispy. We got to taste some of the crispy Parma Ham and it was phenomenal! Even better than bacon…

Crispy Parma Ham

The mixture was then poured into ramekins using a very fancy gadget, to then be baked in the oven.

Pouring the creme brulee mixture into ramekins.

Whilst they were cooking, we moved on to the main of Pan Fried Lemon Sole with Virgin Dressing and Potato, Mozzarella and Parma Ham Gratin. We had to fillet our lemon sole, which I did not enjoy ONE BIT. I love to eat fish, but not fillet it. Also, I needed Chef’s help to take the skin off… seriously, it was so hard!

Lemon Sole with Parma Ham

We had to use a mandoline to slice the potatoes really thinly for the gratin. Luckily this one was pretty fool-proof in terms of slicing fingers… The gratin consisted of alternate layers of potato and Parma Ham and then finished with a layer of mozzarella. We actually made the gratin first as it takes a while to cook in the oven. This is a serious comfort food dish!

Potato and Parma Ham gratin

We then made a Virgin Dressing to accompany the fish, which had a lot of shallot in it (which I hate) but actually it ending up tasting delicious! This needs to simmer for a while in order to reduce the vinegar but it adds a lovely tartness to the fish. 

Once everything was ready, it was time to cook the fish as it just needs a couple of minutes on one side, flip over and then only about 30 seconds on the second side as it will continue to cook when you take it off the heat.

Frying the lemon sole.

I had the privilege of blow torching the Creme Brulee, which was exciting as it’s not something I’ve ever done before!

Then it was time to plate up! Chef showed us how to plate both dishes and I have to say that the Parma Ham Creme Brulee dish looked like a work of art.

Chef David plating up the food.

Once we’d plated up, we headed next door where we enjoyed devouring the two Parma Ham dishes along with some fabulous wine – Le Rocche Malatestiane – chosen by Chef David.

The Parma Ham Creme Brulee was an absolute triumph and definitely a dish that I will recreate at home. I might wow some dinner party guests with it! I absolutely loved the lemon sole too with the dressing and the side dish of potato and Parma Ham gratin. I’ll definitely make this too but I’ll buy my fish already filleted! I can’t be dealing with that…

I had such a wonderful evening and thoroughly enjoyed cooking with Parma Ham. It was such a privilege to cook at Le Cordon Bleu once again. We even got to take an apron home with us and a certificate! Huge thanks to Parma Ham for the invite.

Cooking with Parma Ham at Le Cordon Bleu.

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