Five Recipes for All Those Leftover Hams – Twin Cities


I wanted a good ham for Easter, but the locally smoked bone-in variety I was looking for was no small size.

Even half a ham weighed nearly 8 pounds, which is, well, a lot of ham, even for our family of five.

After cooking the beautiful specimen on our pellet grill, I had well over half left, and most of my family don’t like leftovers.

Instead of throwing it in the freezer and forgetting about it, I took it as a challenge. I planned a week of dinners using leftover ham and didn’t tell my kids what I was doing.

I usually make split pea soup from leftover ham, which my husband and I love, but usually gets a hearty “meh” from the kids, so as much as I love it, I decided to give it up this year in the interest of remaining science.

Ham is the perfect vehicle for such an experiment, as curing extends its shelf life (if properly refrigerated) by a few days compared to other cuts of meat.

On the weekly meal planner, I listed our meals as follows: casserole, chicken cordon bleu soup, pineapple fried rice and pasta primavera. No mention of ham.

Because each of the recipes I was planning would use diced ham, we cut the ham into bite-sized pieces right after Easter dinner. That way I could just grab a cup or two for whatever I was doing that night.

Honestly, the week has gone so well (and the kids haven’t complained too much) that I’m considering making a giant ham more often.

CREAMY PASTA WITH PRIMAVERA HAM

For 6 generously

My kids love Alfredo – I’m not really a fan unless there’s a lot of veggies involved. It was an excellent compromise. We all liked it very much.

  • 16 ounces dried spaghetti
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups low-sodium or homemade chicken broth
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1 cup good parmesan cheese, grated, plus more for garnish
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
  • 1 pound asparagus, ends snapped off and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 cups frozen peas
  • 2 cups diced ham
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced, for garnish

In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook pasta according to package directions. Two minutes before the pasta is done cooking, add the asparagus to the boiling water with the pasta. Drain.

Meanwhile, prepare the sauce. Melt the butter over medium heat in a large, high-sided skillet. Add garlic and cook 30 seconds, or until fragrant. Add the flour and thyme and stir until it is a light brown color. Add chicken broth and whisk constantly until well blended. Add half and half and Parmesan and whisk until smooth. Add more chicken broth if you think it’s too thick. Add salt and pepper to taste. Turn the burner to low.

Add the peas, ham, spaghetti and asparagus to the pan with the sauce and toss gently with tongs until well combined. Plate and garnish with more Parmesan and basil. Serve immediately.

HAM AND PINEAPPLE FRIED RICE

Ham and pineapple fried rice, made with leftover ham. (Jess Fleming/Pioneer Press)

For 6 generously

Adapted from tasty.co

I think it was everyone’s favorite of the week. I topped it with a drizzle of Japanese barbecue sauce—available in the world foods section of many grocery stores—and an extra drizzle of sriracha for adults.

  • 2 teaspoons of oil
  • 1/2 cup onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup carrots, diced
  • 1 cup bell pepper, diced
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 cup diced ham
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 4 cups brown rice, cooked
  • 3 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons chili garlic sauce
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 cup pineapple, diced
  • 1 green onion, thinly sliced, optional, for garnish
  • Sriracha sauce and Japanese barbecue, optional, for drizzling

In a wok or deep skillet, heat the oil over high heat and sauté the onion, garlic, carrots, peppers and ham until the onions are translucent and the ham is lightly browned . Push all the cooked ham and vegetables to the side of the pan.

Beat the eggs and pour into the cleared half of the pan. Scramble the eggs and mix with the rest of the vegetables.

Add rice, soy sauce, pepper, peas, chili garlic sauce and pineapple. Mix well and cook the rice until slightly crispy.

Serve and garnish with green onions, barbecue sauce and/or sriracha.

CHICKEN CORDON BLEU SOUP

Chicken cordon bleu soup made with leftover ham.
Chicken cordon bleu soup made with leftover ham. (Jess Fleming/Pioneer Press)

For 4 people

Adapted from pioneerwoman.com

I highly recommend making your own croutons to go with this super hearty and super comforting soup. Cut your loaf into the desired size, drizzle it with olive oil, season with salt, pepper and whatever floats on your boat – usually garlic powder for me – and bake at 375 until until it is crispy. It usually takes about 10 minutes for me. It’s a great way to use up stale bread and it tastes so much better than store bought.

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 chicken breasts, cooked and cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 cup cubed ham
  • 4 teaspoons whole grain mustard
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 6 ounces Swiss cheese, grated
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Croutons, optional, for serving

Melt the butter in a medium soup pot. Add the onion and cook over medium-low heat until soft, about 10 minutes. You can cover the pan to cook the onion faster.

Sprinkle with flour and whisk until smooth. Cook for 2 minutes.

Pour in half the milk, half and half and the chicken broth and whisk until smooth. Add the rest little by little. Bring to a boil, stirring often. Boil and stir 1 minute.

Remove from the heat and add the chicken, ham, mustard, parsley and Swiss cheese. Stir until the cheese is completely melted. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.

Serve immediately, garnished with croutons.

HAM AND BROCCOLI CASSEROLE

Ham and broccoli casserole made with leftover ham
Ham and broccoli casserole made with leftover ham. (Jess Fleming/Pioneer Press)

For 8 people

Adapted from thenovicechefblog.com

Usually I’m against canned soup as a casserole or binder for hot dishes – I prefer to make my own cream sauce – but it was a busy week, so I gave in. I buy the low sodium version, Amy’s if I can find it. The kids loved it. Thought it was ok for a quick meal, but I’d definitely play around with making my own sauce next time.

  • 12 ounces egg noodles
  • 2 cups of broccoli florets
  • 1 cup carrots, chopped
  • 1 cup milk
  • 10 ounces low sodium cream of mushroom soup
  • 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 6 ounces chive cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups chopped ham
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9×13 casserole dish, set aside.

In a large saucepan, bring 2 liters of water to a boil. Cook the egg noodles for 4 minutes less than recommended on the package. Add broccoli and carrots and cook 3 minutes more. Drain immediately. (You don’t want to overcook your noodles or you’ll end up with a soggy pan.)

Combine milk, cream of mushroom soup, cheddar cheese and cream cheese in large bowl; until smooth. Stir in noodle mixture, ham and salt and pepper to taste.

Spread noodle mixture evenly in prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs evenly over the pan.

Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 10 minutes, or until topping is lightly browned.

BRUSSELS HAM AND HASH

Brussels Sprouts & Ham Hash, made with leftover ham
Hashed Brussels sprouts with ham, made with leftover ham. (Jess Fleming/Pioneer Press)

For 4 people

One of my favorite ways to use up leftover vegetables, especially Brussels sprouts, is to make hash. Sometimes I buy a bag of pre-shredded produce when I feel like it because I can have a nutritious 15-minute lunch when I don’t have to prep the sprouts. I also used bagged matchstick carrots, but you can add just about anything left over in your produce drawer – shredded sweet potatoes, diced zucchini, fresh corn cut on the cob, traditional potatoes, I have all used. I love the bitter sweetness of Brussels when they caramelize in my cast iron skillet, so I tend to start with them and add whatever I have around. The diced ham adds the perfect amount of smokiness and saltiness to this feast.

  • 3 cups shredded Brussels sprouts
  • 1 cup carrots cut into matchsticks
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 cup diced ham
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Fried egg or two, optional

Heat olive oil in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until simmering.

Add Brussels sprouts, carrots, ham and garlic and sauté until vegetables are tender and ham and vegetables begin to brown.

Garnish with fried eggs and serve immediately.


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