Parma Ham and Courgette Taglierini

  • Time: 1 hour
  • Serves: 2
  • Level: easy

‘…Here’s a pretty easy dish to cook. For me it’s warming and full of flavour – and hey sometimes you need carbs – yum! This is one to cook for your partner, to the untrained eye, they’ll think you’re a real pro.’

Leo Williamson
'One of my fav's. It's Italian and can be scooped up with warm fresh out the oven bread...'

What you need

130g Parma ham – excess fat trimmed off!

2 medium yellow courgettes

One shallot

2 cloves garlic peeled and any young green shoots removed

Half an inch of dried guajillo chilli (or 1/2 – 1 tsp dried chilli flakes to taste)

One bay leaf

Small handful parsley

A little white wine, chicken stock and cream

Olive oil and butter

Salt and pepper

125g dried egg taglierini by DeCecco or 200g dried pasta of another brand

 



Dad's Recipe Tales

A kerfuffle of Parma ham…

Whilst shopping at the farm shop, I went to the delicatessen counter to buy some Parma ham for an antipasto. But there was a problem: the ham joint was near its end and had a very thick border of fat around the outside. Buying ham with this much fat is not only a waste of money, it’s not very attractive or healthy. The proprietor of my local Italian delicatessen understands this and simply carves away most of the excess fat before slicing the ham on the machine. I suggest this approach to the assistant, but she says she must slice the ham with the fat. Perplexed, I politely decline and wander off to continue my shopping.

Ten minutes later I am chased at the other end of the store by the same assistant, now excited and smiling, ‘Sir, sir, my supervisor says I can cut off the fat!’

Oh good! Naturally, I accept the offer and we both return to the counter encouraged by this positive turn of affairs. But unfortunately, my restored confidence quickly evaporates. The assistant is not cutting the fat off the joint first. Instead she slices the ham joint intact on the machine; spreads each slice over the countertop; then picking up a pair of scissors, slowly and meticulously attempts to snip the fat from over 20 slices of ham. The scissors are not sharp, the fat is fiddly and the whole process painfully slow and embarrassing. I offer to buy the ham as it is, but the assistant is determined and carries on cutting fat… Meanwhile, there is a queue forming. I am beginning to feel guilty as customers look at me with the kind of glare in their eyes that says, ‘Did you ask this lady to cut your ham with scissors?’ I avert my gaze and shuffle about as I wait…

Eventually, the fat removal process is finished and the assistant weighs and wraps my package. She’s flustered and fraught, recognising that something was not quite right, but still manages a smile for completing the task. I thank her and walk off to pay for my shopping. I’m distraught. How will it be possible to eat this ham? It caused such a kerfuffle – it must be jinxed! Rather than re-enact the ham  slicing episode by presenting the my ham in an antipasto, I decide to cook it in the taglierini recipe here. It turns out the ham was not jinxed – it was delicious.

 

How Dad Cooked It

  1. Boil the pasta water: use about 2-3 litres of water in a large pan. Add 20g salt and boil the water. Keep at a simmer whilst preparing the sauce.
  2. Prepare the courgettes: slice into julienne (thin strips) about 4cms long. Put them in a bowl and mix in a good pinch of sea salt and a squeeze of lemon. Transfer to a colander over a bowl for half an hour.
  3. Fry the Parma ham: Chop the ham into small pieces and fry in a pan with a glug of olive oil, using a medium heat. When the ham is turning crispy remove with a slotted spoon, drain and set aside. Add a knob of butter to the pan and heat.
  4. Make the sauce: chop the shallot finely, slice the garlic thinly. Gently fry the onions in a pan for about 5 minutes – do not burn. Add the garlic, chilli and bay leaf and continue to fry for 3 minutes. Add the courgettes and stir. Lower the heat and put a lid on the pan. Gently cook the courgettes for 5 minutes. Turn the heat up to medium high and add a good splash of wine (optional), let this boil for a minute and then add a little stock. Lower the heat, simmer again for a minute and then add a few tablespoons of cream. Let this cook for a further minute, season to taste and then take off the heat to rest whilst cooking the pasta.
  5. Put the pasta on to cook: Egg taglierini will take just a few minutes to cook – time whatever pasta is being used so that it is cooked at the same time as the sauce. Cook the pasta until just al dente. Reserve a mug of pasta water and drain the pasta.
  6. Combine the sauce and pasta: finely chop a handful of parsley and add to the sauce. Add the pasta. Stir to combine and allow the pasta to absorb the sauce. If it becomes dry use some of the pasta water to loosen.
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