Not every project need be something serious and traditional. As a parent of two little, beautiful kids, these projects sometimes distract me from spending all of my energy engaging with the little girls, but sometimes they engage you in silliness and their creativity. As I try to most evenings, I was reading “Green Eggs and Ham” to my older daughter and she asked where she could get green eggs and ham. I told her that I don’t know, but I’d look around. She likely forgot about it, but I did not.
I had a good idea of how to make green ham. After making chicken saag for dinner, everything that was near the spinach was absolutely green. I knew, from making ham hock rillettes, that the gelatin in the skin and stock could set up pretty much anything and that blended it actually had a neutral color. By adding blanched spinach, I could blend the skin and some of the stock to create a green medium around which set the ham. With that, I simmered the hocks (and some neck bones) in rich pork stock and water, then separated skin from meat from stock.
Next, I took the skin and some stock and blended it with blanched spinach. The color was right on. Next, I whipped the ham into the green mixture using my stand mixer.
Finally, I packed the mixture in a terrine and weighed it down for 72 to set the green ham.
After the brief wait (weight), I unwrapped the ham to see that we had gotten green ham.
If only I had a ham shaped terrine it would have been an improvement, but after tasting the terrine, it was all ham. The spinach was, at it is most of the time, was nearly tasteless. Bordering on being too salty when eaten on its own, it sliced well and was a reasonable proxy for green ham.
I spent the few weeks leading up to making this, off and on, looking for a way to make the eggs with a green yolk, after all, everybody who has been to that bad brunch place and had basil scrambled into eggs knows that not only does it taste bad, but is not actually the same as what Dr. Seuss pictured. He had the egg white, still white, holding a green yolk.
At first, I thought of making a well in an egg white and simply whipping a runny yolk with spinach powder, but that wasn’t going to work for a number of reasons (most of which was that I did not want to give food borne illness or the texture of chalky egg yolk to my daughter). Then I thought about making a quenelle from hard cooked egg yolks and greens, like a deviled egg yolk, but that seemed less than delicious. Finally, after how easy and perfect Arzak eggs were, I had an idea.
Named after noted Spanish chef, Juan Mari Arzak, these eggs are poached in tied off clingwrap. The neatness involved with poaching an egg in a bag keeps the whites looking beautiful and the yolks completely runny, yet cooked. My thought was that I would make an Arzak egg, but with only the yolk and wrap it in something green. Given the season, ramp tops are available and delicious. They also shrink like crazy when cooked, so I figured that they would serve two purposes. First they would be very green, but second, they could shrink around the yolk when cooked in the plastic bag. With that, I blanched a couple ramp tops and bagged the egg.
While the yolk and ramp tops poached (just over 4 minutes folks), I cooked up the egg white and stacked up the green egg on top of the green ham. I was pleased at the appearance, but before I dragged my knife through the middle of the dish I showed my daughter who recognized it immediately. I just wanted to eat it, but she didn’t even recognize that it was three dimensional. She smelled the eggs, touched the yolk, and knew that she had her green eggs and ham.
Once I made the first incision, the golden yolk ran everywhere creating a great contrast in color and the ham and ramp provided a similar salty and savory contrast to the richness of the yolk which has now become a sauce for the eggs and ham. As she loves runny yolks, she was pleased with the egg (she was less pleased with the green ham terrine). Unlike most of these projects, the pinnacle of the project was neither the first bite, nor the last, but rather the look at my daughter’s face when she recognized that we made something that only existed in her books.
- 3 small ham hocks
- 1 handful of smoked neck bones
- 10 oz. Frozen Spinach
- 1 pint gelatinous pork stock
- 1 egg, white and yolk separated
- 2 ramp tops
Step one: Preheat oven for 220 degrees. Cover hocks and neck bones with pork stock and water. Cook overnight. In AM, separate meat, skin, and stock.
Step two: Combine spinach and skin in a blender and puree adding enough stock to keep everything moving.
Step three: Working quickly, whip green mixture and ham in a stand mixer and pour into a cling wrap lined terrine or loaf pan. Weigh down with cans for 72 hours.
Step four: When ready to serve, line a bowl with cling wrap and wipe down the inside of the wrap with olive oil. Place 2 blanched ramp tops in a x-shaped pattern and set an egg yolk at the intersection. Wrap the tops over the top of the yolk and tie off the bag. Poach in simmering water for 4 minutes and 20 seconds. In the mean time, fry egg white.
Step five: Slice terrine and place slice on a cold plate. Then add egg white. Finally, slice open the plastic bag and place “green yolk” on top of white.