Hopefully Denny’s won’t make me change my title!
Because of my job, I get press releases from a lot of different businesses, both local and national. Since money has been tight and I’ve become a food writer competing with “influencers” (and no one seems to care either way), I’ve broken my rule about accepting free food. A couple of weeks ago, I got an email from Smithfield Hams and on a whim, I asked if they’d be willing to send me one to try.
They sent me two!
On learning of my fortune, a good friend relayed one of Dorothy Parker’s famous quotes “Eternity is a ham and two people.” Miss Dorothy sure wasn’t wrong about that! Even though one of the hams is still sitting in my freezer (and the remains of the other went in last night), John and I have been “hamming it up” for days.
A week ago, I defrosted and cooked/re-heated Smithfield’s Hickory Smoked Half Spiral Ham and coated it in their pecan praline glaze after heating. It came out well, even though I neglected to put a little water in the bottom of the roasting pan, something I’ll be sure to do next time.
For our first meal, we just enjoyed several slices of ham with roasted Brussels sprouts and a cauliflower mash. Simple and delicious. We even munched on more ham later in the evening, pulling slices out of the fridge and eating it with our fingers.
For breakfast the next day, I decided to try a Smithfield recipe for Ham, Egg & Cheese Monkey Bread. I even bought a great, used bundt pan from the Uptown kitchenware shop Seasoned for the recipe. Okay! I also really just wanted a bundt pan.
Now, in all honesty, I am not a fan of those refrigerated canned doughs. They have a bitterness I just can’t get past. But, I’ve never made monkey bread and I thought the flavors of the cheese, egg and ham would cover it up, and it did. Only problem was that after baking it according to the directions, there were uncooked pieces of dough in the center. I even baked it for an extra 10 minutes to get the top nicely browned.
What was our solution? Well, for the first meal (it made several), we just ate the exterior, crispy pieces. After that, we sliced pieces of the bread and toasted it in the oven and it worked out great. We even tried it with some honey mustard (as the recipe suggests) and it was delicious. In fact, it got better each time.
Last night, I tried another Smithfield recipe for Scalloped Ham & Potatoes. Let me just preface this by saying I love scalloped potatoes and used to make them all the time when I was a teenager, but I never added ham or spinach and was anxious to try their version. Unfortunately, I ran into some difficulties. First, I don’t own a 9X9 cake pan. All of my square pans are 8X8, so that is what I used. I ended up with an extra half of potato, but that was no big deal. The biggest error was the cooking time, and I should’ve realized it right off the bat. The recipe says to cook at 350° for 20 minutes which is a third of the time it actually requires to cook. It needs a full hour at that temperature.
Though it finally came out, and came out tasty (I will definitely put ham and spinach in my scalloped potatoes in the future) it was really messy. I blame that on not having a larger pan. Thank goodness I baked it with tin foil underneath to catch the drips! My oven would’ve been a nightmare otherwise.
One more note, since I’ve been on a Korean food kick lately, we thought we’d try the ham in our kimchi fried rice instead of Spam, pork belly or bacon. Let’s just say, I wouldn’t recommend it. It wasn’t terrible, I mean, we ate it. But I think the maple/praline flavor clashed too much with the gochujang and sesame oil. Maybe we’ll try again with the plain ham we’ve got waiting in the freezer? There’s also several other Smithfield recipes I want to try and I’ve got plenty of ham to try them!