Melons are an extremely versatile fruit worth so much more than being balled and put into a basket. Pairing melon with ham is a tradition the Italians have been practicing for centuries. I created this melon and ham tasting dish to showcase the diversity of one of my favorites of summer. A couple of the recipes are adapted from Modernist Cooking.
The dish has 3 components with a range of sweetness profiles and textures.
Order of Preparation
- Prepare the Melon Terrine
- Use the Melon scraps for the Melon juice for caviar
- Shave the remaining Melon for the Risotto
- Prepare the Ham broth
- Cut and shape the Melon Terrine
- Par Cook the Melon Risotto
- Finish the Melon Risotto
- Make the Melon Caviar
For the Melon
- 500g Cold Water
- 2.5g Calcium Lactate
- Honeydew Melon
For the Pectin
- 100g Cold Water
- 3g pectin
- Stir the calcium lactate into the water until fully dissolved
- Peel and remove the seeds from the cantaloupe and honeydew melons
- Cut the melons into planks approximately 1cm (3/8 in) thick. Try cutting them of similar length and width.
- Using a Chamber Vacuum Sealer, vacuum seal the planks in an even layer with the calcium solution. The chamber vacuum will compress the melon while simultaneously driving the calcium lactate into the fruit. This will make the melon become firmer and take on a jewel like consistency.
- Refrigerate for 20 minutes to allow the planks to absorb the solution. They will take on a firmer texture and almost translucent appearance.
- While the planks are in the refrigerator make the pectin solution by mixing with the water in a small pot.
- Bring the solution to a boil over medium high heat while constantly mixing with a hand blender. Continue mixing for one minute at a boiling temperature.
- Cool completely in an ice bath.
- Using planks of similar size, stack them into a cantaloupe – honeydew – cantaloupe tower. Do not worry about having perfectly aligned shapes at this point.
- Brush one side of the bottom cantaloupe plank with the pectin solution and place the honeydew plank on top.
- Brush the top of the honeydew plank with the pectin solution and place the remaining cantaloupe plank on top.
- Vacuum seal the resulting tower to compress and refrigerate 12 hours.
- Cut into slices or the desired final shape (rectangles, squares, triangles).
Ham Broth with Melon Caviar
- 500g Cold Water
- 250g Serrano Ham sliced thinly
- 0.6g Xanthan Gum
Preparation – Ham Broth
- Combine the Ham and Water in a pot and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Strain the broth through a sieve lined with cheesecloth and discard the ham.
- Chill the broth over an ice bath and then refrigerate until the fat floats to the surface and hardens. Remove and discard the fat.
- Blend the xantham gum into the ham broth and refrigerate for several hours to allow the air to escape. Alternatively you can use a chamber vacuum sealer to remove the air.
Preparation – Melon Juice
Find out more about basic spherification here
- In a high sided container, blend the Melon juice with the sodium alginate for several minutes to ensure it is thoroughly incorporated.
- Leave the Melon juice in the refrigerator overnight so that all the oxygen escapes. Alternatively you can use a chamber vacuum sealer to remove the air.
- In a circular dish, stir the calcium chloride into the water until fully dissolved. Fill another circular dish with room temperature water.
Preparation – Melon Caviar
There are two methods for making the melon caviar. One requires a normal squeeze bottle or food grade syringe. The other requires a pipetting device normally used in scientific laboratories. The squeeze bottle is simpler to use but more time consuming as you are forced to make one drop at a time. The pipetting device produces hundreds of drops in minutes, but requires a bit more effort and technique.
If using the squeeze bottle:
- Fill it with the melon juice and alginate mixture and slowly squeeze out drops into the water and calcium chloride bath.
- Let them rest for 2 minutes then remove them with a small strainer and rinse them for a minute in the fresh water. I like to use a powdered sugar duster for this.
If using the pipetting device:
- You’ll need a pipetting device and a food syringe
- Pour the melon juice into the pipetting tray
- Place the pipette onto the dish. Insert the syringe into the tube and draw the syringe out to force the juice into the device.
- Lift the device over the calcium chloride and water solution and gently shake up and down. Droplets will fall from the device into the water and begin curing.
- You may need to tilt the device upside down and then back again to get the remaining juice into the release holes.
- Let them cure in the water and calcium chloride bath for 2 minutes then remove them with a small strainer and rinse them for a minute in the fresh water. I like to use a powdered sugar duster for this.
- Repeat this as many times as necessary to get the required number of caviar beads.
- Pour the ham broth into individual clear glasses
- Spoon the caviar beads into the glasses and stir to disperse them
- Serve immediately as the melon beads will continue curing and eventually become solid
- 750g Vegetable Broth
- 20g Butter
- 200g Peeled, Seeded, and Grated Cantaloupe
- 25g Chopped Shallots
- 5g Chopped Garlic
- 200g Arborio Rice
- 350g White Wine
- 25g Prosciutto
- 50g Marscapone Cheese
- Basil for garnish
- Bring the vegetable broth to a slow simmer
- Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat
- Add the cantaloupe, shallots, and garlic. Cook, stirring often until the mixture has thickened (about 8 – 10 minutes)
- Add the Arborio rice and the white wine. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring to coat the rice
- Add the broth one ladle full at a time, stirring often. Wait until the liquid is almost all absorbed before adding another.
- Keep adding broth until the rice is tender and all the broth has been used (25 – 30 min).
- Stir in the mascarpone cheese and the prosciutto.
- Garnish with a basil chiffonade