In the previous post we started dealing with ham shanks. Let’s continue. I’m assuming you want to make a soup. If you don’t, you should. But there are a few things to remember during the process: 1) You’re not on Iron Chef. Believe it or not. So just do what you are comfortable with – you don’t have to prove anything to anybody. 2) You will need to get your hands dirty. If your manicure matters more to you than life itself, the levels of success in cookery you’ll reach will necessarily be limited. Princesses, who can feel peas bothering them under ten mattresses, must get real if they want to be able to cook something decent to eat.
Here is the stock from the ham shank. There is fat on the surface, yes. Delicious, robust, flavorful fat. Leave it, unless you can not eat it for some reason.
Then we have the ham itself. If you are like me, you like to take the ham off the bone the way it wants to come off the bone. You don’t need a knife, only some fingers that know what to do. Start pulling the little pieces of meat apart – some will be big and will make you think of Hungry Man dinners. Others will be tiny little shred-like things which will remind you of embroidery thread and Jane Austen.
The tender little white pieces of soft fat again can be left on, just not too much. Of course if you tend towards liking things in neat little squares these ham bits can be made so. I prefer the difference in texture which both large and small together give in the eating.
Ah! There is a bone there, isn’t there! Yes. If you are lucky enough to have a bone with marrow soft enough for a knife tip to bend into gently, you are lucky indeed! No, this is not marrow of the sort placed upright on a plate, roasted, honored, bestowed with huge pricetags on the menu. This is the unknown marrow, and it is free. Nobody needs to know about it but you. Just put your lips onto the bone and suck. See what happens.
Tell me if you like it!
After all is said and done, the soup must be finished. Go to the Garden of Peas.
The Garden of Peas has everything you need to finish the soup. Oh. With the exception of some dill (be generous), some ground black pepper (be smart), and some nutmeg (be careful). The Gloomy Bear in the corner of the garden is only there to guard it – adding him to the soup is optional.
Chop the celery and the onion (add another onion – there should be lots of onion) and put the peas, celery, onion, and seasonings into the ham stock. Again, get lazy. Let the soup simmer for an hour to an hour and a half. It will appear as if it all melted together. One note! Add water when needed so that your soup is the texture and thickness you want. I added a good amount of water to this batch, and will show you the results tomorrow. Why tomorrow? Because I am too lazy now.
At the end of the simmering, stir in the ham and allow it all to heat together. I assure you . . . this is seriously better than being a Princess.