Leftover Ham: two ideas

Most people have ham at one time or other during the holidays. For New Year’s Day I usually scour the supermarket to find a small ham that has been made without additional water. The difference in taste, appearance, and texture from the water-added varieties is significant, but there are not too many choices to be had. After a successful trip to Price Chopper, we were able to enjoy a glazed baked ham, studded with oranges and cloves, with the traditional Southern side of black-eyed peas on January 1st. The problem comes in when there are only two people eating a three-pound piece of meat. What do you do with the leftovers? This year I came up with two ideas inspired by dishes we’ve had in Europe.

Once in Alsace at noontime we happened upon a restaurant where a small wedding dinner was taking place. We hesitantly asked the waitress if there was any possibility of the two of us having lunch there. After checking with the chef, she said it would be all right, but it would have to be something simple. Ah, if I could only come up with such a delicious meal in so short a time: mushroom vol-au-vent with a green salad. Unforgettable! Anyway, remembering that experience, I decided to fill Pepperidge Farm puff pastry shells with ham à la king, adapting a recipe I found on the Internet. First, I made a white sauce combining about 2 tablespoons of butter with an equal amount of flour. After cooking that for a minute or so, I poured in a mixture of chicken broth and milk till it was the right consistency—moderately thick and quite creamy. Then I put in 1 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce and 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard, plus a cup of diced ham, ½ cup of frozen peas, some grated gruyère cheese, and ½ cup of pimento-stuffed sliced olives. I added a tablespoon of chopped parsley before filling the baked pastry shells. Et voilà! That’s all there is to it: less than 30 minutes from start to finish.

A second idea came to me from the time I spent in Switzerland during my junior year in college. Like many simple recipes such as French crêpes, rösti was originally created by the poor to feed themselves and their families on a budget. I believe I had the Swiss German dish for the first time at the Belvedere on the main street of Fribourg. Why I thought of it now is anybody’s guess! Basically made of grated potatoes (a lot like hashbrowns), rösti can be modified in a number of ways. For my version, I started with one beaten egg, to which I added one minced shallot, a cup of diced ham, ½ cup grated gruyère cheese, some chopped chives, salt and pepper. I then grated into the mixture 3-4 small to medium raw potatoes. (Another variation could include chopped rosemary and some scallions.) Then I scooped up about ½ cup and put it into a skillet containing canola oil and melted butter, set on medium high heat. I cooked it for about 5 minutes on one side, till it was becoming brown on the edges. I then flipped it over for a few minutes before finishing it in a hot oven for about 10 minutes.

I accompanied both dishes by a simple green salad vinaigrette. Delish!

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3 comments:

French Fries On Wednesday said...

OMG!! I make rosti all of the time! It's one of my favorite meals. I've never put ham in it though. Perhaps I'll make it tonight. By the way, I could eat my weight in gruyere cheese as it's my favorite (next to my near and dear Greek cheeses).

Mme Boisvert said...

How were you introduced to rosti, Lisa?

French Fries On Wednesday said...

When I went on vacation in Switzerland when I studied abroad. Raclette is a favorite too. ...and fondue, chocolate, etc... I'm hungry now!!

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