Monday, May 2, 2011

Holiday Leftovers: Ham

Scalloped Potatoes and Ham
We had a lovely spiral sliced ham for our Easter dinner. 
I used the leftover slices to make Scalloped Potatoes and Ham.  This is pure comfort food.  Recipes like this have been around for generations.  My grandmother made a heavenly one: tender potatoes, salty ham, thick creamy sauce and onions just starting to turn sweet.  My mother used to sprinkle flour over layers of potatoes, onions and ham, pour milk over it, put it in the oven and hope for the best.  Usually it turned out runny and curdled looking - it wasn't very good. 

I spent years pouring through old cookbooks looking for a recipe that would produce my grandma's masterpiece.  The old cookbooks told me to do what my mother had done - not good enough.  Some later recipes called for using a can of cream of mushroom soup instead of milk and flour.  Creamy results, but the flavors were just wrong!  Other recipes advocated boxed scalloped potato mixes and ham.  I tried it. yuck.

So, I thought I'd just make a cream sauce like you'd make for macaroni and cheese but without the cheese and stir that into the potatoes. Yes siree, Bob!  That's what I'm talking about!  Tastes like grandma's.

The best part is the browned crusty bits around the edges...

Scalloped Potatoes and Ham
1 onion, sliced thinly into half moons
4 cups potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
3 cups ham, diced
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
pinch ground nutmeg
3 cups whole milk

Preheat oven to 350F.
Spray a 13x9 glass baking dish with non stick.  Why glass?  Gets those edges nicely crusty!

Slice potatoes and onions, put into cold water while you prepare the sauce.  Why? Soaking the potatoes keeps them from turning black and soaking the onions keeps their flavor from being too strong.

Melt butter in a saucepan large enough to hold all the milk.  Wait for it to stop foaming, then stir in the flour all at once.  Cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute.  Why? If you don't cook the flour, your sauce will taste like raw flour even after baking.

Add the milk, pepper and nutmeg and stir constantly until it thickens and boils.  It will get very thick.  That's ok, because the liquid coming out of the potatoes and onions as they cook will thin it out a bit in the oven.

Drain the potatoes and onions in a colander.  Give it a couple shakes to remove all the excess water.  Dump into a heat proof bowl large enough to hold the potatoes, onions, ham and the sauce.  Add the ham.  Pour the hot sauce over all.  Using a large spoon, carefully fold the sauce into the meat and vegetable mixture.  Try not to break any potato slices, but get everything evenly coated.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared baking dish.  Cover tightly with foil and bake for 30 minutes.  Uncover and bake 1 hour longer.

Serves 6 to 10.

I put the ham bone in my crockpot with an onion studded with a couple whole cloves, a large carrot, some whole peppercorns and a bay leaf.  I put it on high and let it go all day; then turned it to low and let it go all night.  The following day, I put the covered crock in the refrigerator to cool.  I'll use the broth and meat tomorrow to make Bean Soup. 

1 comment:

  1. Yum-o. Looking forward to the days I host holiday meals again! (But never Christmas if I can help it b/c Christmas just isn't Christmas if it's not at mom's house)!


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