A Hamplitude of Dinners

We finally managed to finish one of the Smithfield hams we received a few months ago, but the second one has been glaring at me every time I opened the freezer! A few weeks ago, I defrosted the ham and had my own slew of recipes ready to go.

Like last time, we started out with a simple dinner of sliced ham, mashed cauliflower and roasted broccoli and, like last time, it was delicious. In fact, it came out even better because I remembered to put water in the bottom of the roasting pan to keep it nice and moist.

The second ham dinner was one inspired by a dish I had long, long ago when I was a pre-teen — Chicken Cordon Bleu. I cannot for the life of me remember the name of the restaurant, though I am pretty sure it was in Lake Tahoe. Anyhow, I re-created this dish numerous times throughout my life, and it’s incredibly simple! Just take chicken breasts and pound them out till they’re nice and thin, season with salt and pepper, and wrap it around a couple of slices of ham and a slice of Swiss cheese. Then you dredge the bundle in flour, egg and breadcrumbs (I used panko), pan fry it to get a good crust on the outside and cook it for an additional 10-15 minutes in the oven to ensure the chicken is fully cooked. It turned out great, even though the picture isn’t at all fabulous.

Though I’d never made it before, I adore the French Croque Madame. I’ve enjoyed the classic version numerous times at Toast, just recently at Tonti’s Hand, and a brilliant Cubano-inspired mashup at Patois. I decided the time had come to try it on my own. I bought some sliced sourdough at Rouses, layered it with thick slices of the Smithfield ham, and grated Gruyère cheese, smothered it all in béchamel sauce (basically a light roux with more Gruyère and a pinch of nutmeg), and popped it the oven. While the croques were bubbling away, I fried up a couple of sunny-side-up eggs and slid them on top the sandwiches when they were ready. I served it with a few pickles (ahem, cornichons) and a blob of potato salad I had made the day before. I also added a extra bit of ham on the plate, a little lagniappe John and I fondly refer to as “snacking ham.” They were incredible!

For the fourth recipe, I whipped up one of my old standbys, a quiche! This one had sautéed onions, fresh baby spinach, lots of cubed ham and leftover Gruyère. I even made my own crust, which was far from pretty, though it was flaky and buttery, just like a good quiche crust should be.

For the remaining ham (all that was left was a hunk or two and the bone), I made up a huge pot of red beans, a dish I make on the regular for John’s weekly lunches. Many thanks to you, Smithfield, for sending us a LOT of really great ham, which fed John and I for a good three months or so.

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