Saturday, December 4, 2010

From Ham to Eternity

Hey Elise,
You know the definition of eternity? A man, a woman and a ham.
I brought the leftover ham home after Thanksgiving and two days later commenced the ham campaign. The first strike was mac and cheese with ham. Instead if a white sauce, mix equal parts milk and cream and simmer until reduced by about 1/3 to 1/2. Add cheese, I used meduim cheddar, and fold in the ham and cooked pasta. Now this is where it gets good. You make a topping from 2 parts fresh whole wheat bread crumbs and one part walnuts chopped small but not fine. Mix this with some melted butter and a few TB of parm. Sprinkle it over, cover and cook at 350. For the last 15 minutes, take the cover off so the topping can brown. This was amazing.
The next strike was a squash pasta bake. This is a recipe that calls for pancetta and I substituted a few cups of chopped ham. It was OK, but not extraordinary. Pancetta is betta. Which goes to show that you can't substitute ham for bacon, at least not with impunity.
I made a grilled cheese with ham and I made some scrambled eggs with ham and I finally got to the point where all the good parts of the meat were gone. Phew!
For the final assault, I started reading bean soup recipes, but I was really not feeling it. I almost threw up my hands and went with the pea soup, just because I like saying pea soup. It has all those great connotations and is so often used to describe weather. Even if I didn't like it, I would still have fun announcing that I'd made it.
But then I had the happy memory of a wild rice soup that calls for a stock made with a ham bone. I HAVE A HAM BONE! So I made that. Simmer ham bone and a chicken carcass, which I also had, and some onion, carrot and parsnip, (called for celery, but I didn't have celery). Once you have this stock which is rich and glossy, you sweat some more onion, carrot and celery (by now I had some celery) and add your wild rice and then the broth and simmer it for 2+ hours.
The bf has the Shingles and he was feeling poorly so I took it over to him and we ate it all. One chicken carcass, one ham bone, two dinners. Now that is where the home made stock really lifts your dinner right up to the stars.
It took a week and a day and didn't feel at all eternal. I'm thinking we might have another ham for Christmas.
love, Margaret

No comments: