November 20, 2021 | Recipes
Ham, especially in European cultures, is symbolic of special feasts and family gatherings. Whether it’s covered with a maple glaze or adorned with pineapple rings, friends and family will devour it, hot or cold. Ideally, they won’t eat all of it (we always buy a bigger one than we need to guarantee leftovers). When the guests have gone home and you still have the remainder of a leg of ham in your fridge (or if you’ve just picked up a packet of slice Old Fashioned Ham), here are some ideas for how we like to use ham to bring some of the festive nostalgia back into our every-day meals.
Instead of its ubiquitous cousin, bacon, ham is a simple, lower fat alternative for breakfast dishes. Try one of these three meals to start your day.
A thinly sliced piece of ham not only adds its savoury flavours to this dish, it also protects the English muffin (or slice of bread) from the egg and hollandaise sauce. That way, we don’t have to battle with soggy carbs. If you don’t have any of that left-over glazed ham, we suggest the Honey Ham as a delicious option.
Ham & Cheese Croissants
We’ve found that Swiss cheese has just the right combination of sharp flavour and meltiness to complement the French croissant and the German ham. Place the European Union Breakfast in a warm oven until the croissant is crispy, the ham is warmed through, and the cheese looks like it’s about to drip onto the oven tray.
For a good old-fashioned fry up, you can’t go past a ham steak. Slice the ham as thickly or as thinly as you like and throw it in a fry pan with any leftover potatoes and some eggs. For a gluten-free or lower carb option, go for a thick slice of ham and use it to mop up the juices instead of a slice of toast.
Elevate sandwiches, pastas, and salad with a few simple touches. These lunches are worth taking time for (definitely not to be eaten at your desk).
Monte Cristo Sandwiches
Proof that the combination of ham, cheese, and eggs is a winning combination any time of day, the Monte Cristo Sandwich is what you’d get if your ham and cheese sandwich had a baby with some French Toast. It’s a little savoury, a little sweet, and all delicious. It works especially well with smoky ham leftovers, or caramel, woody flavours like the Black Forest Ham.
Mac & Cheese
Next time you’re making mac & cheese, chop some pieces of ham in to give your lunchtime pasta das gewisse etwas (the German version of je ne sais quoi). Some people like it cubed, around the same size as the macaroni, others swear by cutting sliced ham into ribbons. However you do it, the ham adds extra taste and texture to every mouthful.
This four-step chopped salad is a great light meal. Halve 2 cups (500 ml) of grape tomatoes, thinly slice a red onion and place in a colander to drain with a can of chickpeas and a jar of roasted red peppers (chopped). Combine the drained ingredients with a chopped head of romaine, and 1-2 cups (250-500 ml) of ¼ inch (½ cm) cubes of ham and a sharp cheese (like provolone). For the dressing, thin out your favourite mayonnaise with 2 Tbsp (30 ml) of lemon juice and 6 Tbsp (90 ml) of olive oil. (Optional additions: minced garlic, peperoncini, or basil).
These three recipes are so flexible that you can use almost any ingredients you have on hand. The ham acts as a centering flavour as well as seasoning the dishes with a savoury tang.
Omelettes are an amazing way of using up bits and pieces in the fridge. Smoky ham flavours really help tie everything together. They’re also not as complicated as people think. Mix a couple of eggs in a bowl with some salt and pour them into a hot, buttered fry pan. Sprinkle in your ham pieces, herbs, asparagus, cheese (whatever you like). When the edges of the egg start to lift from the side of the pan, start to roll the egg over to cover the filling (don’t worry if it still looks a little runny, the ambient heat will finish it off).
A perennial family favourite! While the addition of pineapple on the Hawaiian pizza is very contentious, no one can ever argue that ham doesn’t belong there. Pizzas are another great vehicle for using up leftovers. Get creative: ham and brussels sprout pizza with balsamic red onions; or go high-fibre with ham, broccoli, and beets.
Ham & Bean Soup
This meal is perfect for when you’re nearly down to the end of your ham bone. In your soup pot, heat up a generous splash of olive oil and add diced onion (1), carrot (2), and celery (3 ribs). Cut as much of the meat off the bone as you can. When the onion is soft, add the ham bone, the garlic (3 cloves, sliced, diced, or minced), 8 cups (2 litres) veggie stock, and a couple of bay leaves. Cook for 30 minutes. Add 1 large tin of cannellini beans (rinsed) with 1 tsp (5 ml) cumin, and 1 tsp (5 ml) thyme. Cook for another 30 minutes. Remove bone and bay leaves, then salt and pepper to taste.