Chef's Recipes

Crisp ham and cheese balls with mustard crème fraîche

Australian Gourmet Traveller recipe for crisp ham and cheese balls with mustard crème fraîche by Colin Fassnidge.

By Colin Fassnidge
  • 1 hr preparation
  • 1 hr cooking plus cooling, chilling
  • Serves 12 - 14
  • Print
Crisp ham and cheese balls with mustard crème fraîche


  • 1 onion, thickly sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tbsp thyme leaves
  • 2 rosemary sprigs
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 500 ml milk (2 cups)
  • 160 gm butter, coarsely chopped
  • 560 gm plain flour
  • 110 gm aged English Cheddar, coarsely grated
  • 3 tsp seeded mustard
  • 3 tsp hot English mustard
  • 5 eggs, whisked, for eggwash
  • 280 gm soft fine white breadcrumbs (4 cups)
Poached ham hocks
  • 2 ham hocks (650gm each)
  • 2 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
  • 1 carrot, coarsely copped
  • 1 onion, coarsely copped
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • 1 fresh bay leaf
  • ½ tsp black peppercorns
Mustard crème fraîche
  • 250 gm crème fraîche
  • 30 gm wholegrain mustard
  • 20 gm Dijon mustard
  • 10 gm hot English mustard
  • Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon


  • 1
    For poached ham hocks, combine hocks in a large saucepan with vegetables, herbs and peppercorns, and cover with 3 litres of water (hock should be completely submerged). Bring to the boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer until bones easily pull out and meat falls off (2½ hours). Cool hocks in stock, then remove meat, coarsely chop and reserve (you should have 375gm meat). Reserve 500ml ham stock (strained).
  • 2
    Combine onion, garlic and herbs in a saucepan with olive oil and stir occasionally over medium heat until tender (5-6 minutes). Add reserved stock and milk, and bring to the boil, then simmer over medium heat for flavours to infuse (2 minutes), strain into a bowl (discard solids) and cool (10 minutes).
  • 3
    Melt butter in a separate saucepan over medium-high heat, then add 160gm flour and stir continuously until sand-coloured (blond roux) with a sandy texture (1-2 minutes). Remove from heat. Gradually add reserved milk mixture, whisking continuously until smooth and incorporated. Return to medium heat and stir continuously until mixture bubbles (3-4 minutes). Add hock meat and grated Cheddar, and cook until cheese melts (3 minutes). Stir in mustards and season to taste, then pour into a 3-litre plastic container and refrigerate until set and firm enough to cut (2-3 hours). Roll tablespoonfuls of mixture into balls and place on a tray lined with baking paper. Refrigerate until required.
  • 4
    Place remaining flour, egg and breadcrumbs in separate bowls. Working with a cheese ball at a time, first dust with flour and tap off excess. Dip floured ball into egg and then breadcrumbs, then repeat egg and crumb stage so the balls have 2 coatings and refrigerate for 10 minutes or until required.
  • 5
    For mustard crème fraîche, combine ingredients (see note), then transfer to a serving bowl.
  • 6
    Preheat a deep-fryer to 160C and deep-fry cheese balls in batches, turning, until golden brown and hot on the inside (2-3 minutes; take care, hot oil will spit). Drain on absorbent paper and serve immediately with mustard crème fraîche.


Drink Suggestion: 2012 Channing Daughters Rosato di Sculpture Garden. Drink suggestion by Oliver Tucker