We had my niece’s Christening in Hungary with a few guests this December and decided on a cold buffet for the occasion. I took upon myself to make these ham rolls perfect for celebrations and parties. I had these the first time as a 4 years old at a posh wedding in a Budapest hotel and still remember quite well. I was filled with suspicion as never saw them before when my then young dad was offering these to try. I couldn’t deny the thumbs up and had to have another one straight away.
I tried to push the boat out with the decoration as much as I could, it had to look just as good and taste nice.
The ham slices are filled with hot and zingy horseradish butter cream and glazed with aspic, a savoury jelly made with meat stock. They are served on a bed of “russian salad“, a colourful vegetable salad made with cooked peas, small potato and carrot cubes also diced pickled cucumbers and apples can be added at the end all in a creamy mayonnaise dressing. You can get creative with the decoration by piping the leftover horseradish cream around and using tomatoes, cucumber, fresh parsley leaves, lettuce leaves or boiled egg slices.
- 22 slices of good quality, thick dry cured ham (preferably square-shaped)
- 250 gram (9 oz) butter – you will use 35 gram for the bechamel sauce and the rest 115 gram when making the butter cream
- 50 gram (1.7 oz) plain flour
- 390 ml (~1.5 cups) full cream milk
- 1 jar of strong horseradish sauce (without vinegar preferred) – mine was 180 gram jar, there are various brands around, see in instructions below, its down to your preference how much to use.
- salt to taste
- white pepper
For the aspic glaze
- gelatin – powdered or leaves
- 0.5 piece chicken or vegetable stock cube
- 250ml (1 cup) water
The detailed recipe of the russian salad base is given at the Casino Eggs recipe
- As preparation ahead, we are making a thicker bechamel sauce by gently heating 35g of butter
- As soon as the butter melts add the 50g flour and stir vigorously until get a smooth glossy paste, the aim is to make a light roux, don’t let it overcook or brown
- Stir in the milk, a little at a time, making sure to stir well so that no lumps form, add a teaspoon of salt
- Set aside and let it cool completely
- Working with an electric mixer whip the rest of the cubed room temperature butter until white and fluffy
- Add the now cold bechamel and mix together to a creamy consistency
- We are going to work in the horseradish now. There are various brands and strengths around so I leave it to you how much you are going to put in the cream. It is also down to taste how zingy you would like the filling to be. If in doubt I would say add more horseradish, it’s meant to have a bit of a kick. I used a 180g jar of strong horseradish paste.
- Add another teaspoon of salt or to taste and a pinch or two of white pepper, taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.
- To fill the ham slices, spread about 2 heaped teaspoons of the cream on one half of a slice of ham and roll it up tightly. Place the ham roll opening side down, in my case onto a bed of russian salad
- Make more rolls and place them tightly together (I tried in a ray like circular arrangement first but didn’t work well, they unravelled, best to place tightly next to each other to hold)
- Now pipe a little of the butter cream in the openings on both sides of each roll, and use the rest for decoration.
- If making the aspic glaze, dissolve half a chicken or vegetable stock cube in 250ml simmering water, strain with a fine sieve it will give a clearer glaze, according to package instructions melt enough gelatin in it to set 250ml liquid, usually it means bringing the gelatin and liquid to nearly boiling point whilst slowly stirring then setting aside to cool, prolonged high heat can ruin the ability to set.
- Set aside the gelatin stock to cool, you will need to catch the jelly at setting point when nearly completely cold and still runny. If missed and the jelly pours lumpy a few seconds in the microwave can help it.
- Glaze the ham rolls with a tablespoon of this half-set jelly evenly. Decorate and chill until serving.