Decades ago, James Beard created the wonderful Ham Mousse with Peaches for the Four Seasons Restaurant in New York City. This dish became a highlight on the summer menu. He flavored the mousse with a touch of Port but if you prefer a different alcoholic flavoring, try Bourbon. Omitting alcohol, try prepared horseradish. A small amount adds a delightful zing. In addition to peaches, do try other stone fruit and be sure to sample nectarines and apricots. Their slight acidity is a magnificent counterpoint to the ham.
Include a rich-tasting country ham with its mouthwatering hint of smoke, rather than bland boiled ham or pre-sliced luncheon meat. Make Smoked Ham Mousse one or two days in advance of serving. It’s worth the wait for flavors to blend into savory goodness. Serve as an appetizer, as finger food with small fruit pieces such as apricot halves, or as a main dish during summer’s nectarine and peach season.
Stone Fruit: Choose firm ripe for easier stuffing
Apricots, Nectarines, Peaches or other stone fruit
Smoked Ham Mousse:
Prepared mustard or dry mustard powder
Ruby or Tawny Port or Bourbon, optional
Prepared horseradish, optional
Classic mayonnaise or vegan mayonnaise
Fresh lemon juice
Salt to taste
Freshly grated nutmeg, optional
Fresh lemon zest
Ground black pepper
Fresh herbs (chervil, mint, parsley, tarragon)
1. Smoked Ham Mousse: Prepare in a food processor with the metal chopping blade or a stand blender. Trim the ham as needed removing any tough edges. Cut into small pieces for easier processing. Grind the ham into fine bits. Add the mustard, Port or Bourbon or horseradish, and mayonnaise. Blend until the mousse has smooth texture. Keep adding mayonnaise making the mousse as soft as you prefer, even pourable. Taste and adjust with mustard and horseradish as needed. Add fresh lemon juice to taste and blend. Lightly season with salt because the salt develops later on while the mousse is in the refrigerator.
2. Fruit: Split the fruit in half. Twist the stones or pits to remove them, then discard them.
Grate the lemon zest and reserve for garnishing. Cut the lemons in half. Rub the cut surface of each fruit with the cut side of the lemon to prevent darkening of the fruit.
3. Assemble: Mound the smoked ham mousse in the center of each fruit half where the stones or pits were. Garnish with lemon zest, ground black pepper, and herbs.