General

Five recipes for all that leftover ham – Twin Cities

Five recipes for all that leftover ham – Twin Cities

I wanted a good ham for Easter, but the locally-smoked, bone-in variety I was looking for didn’t come in a small size.

Even a half ham weighed in at nearly 8 pounds, which is, well, a lot of ham, even for our family of five.

After cooking up the beautiful specimen on our pellet grill, I was left with way more than more than half of it, and most of my family is not a fan of leftovers.

Instead of throwing it in the freezer and forgetting about it, I took this as a challenge. I planned out a week of dinners using the remaining ham, and I didn’t tell my kids what I was doing.

I usually make split pea soup from leftover ham, which my husband and I love but is usually met with a hearty “meh” from the kids, so as much as I love it, I decided to forego it this year in the interest of leftover science.

Ham is the perfect vehicle for such an experiment, because curing extends its life (if properly refrigerated) for a few days over other cuts of meat.

On the weekly meal planner, I listed our meals as follows: casserole, chicken cordon bleu soup, fried rice with pineapple and pasta primavera. No mention of ham whatsoever.

Because each of the recipes I was planning would use cubed ham, we chopped the ham into bite-sized bits right after Easter dinner. That way, I could just grab a cup or two for whatever I was making that night.

Honestly, the week went so smoothly (and the kids didn’t complain too much) that I’m considering making a giant ham more often.

CREAMY HAM PASTA PRIMAVERA

Serves 6 generously

My kids love alfredo — I’m not really a fan unless there are a lot of vegetables involved. This was a great compromise. We all liked it quite a bit.

  • 16 ounces dried spaghetti
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups low-sodium or homemade chicken broth
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1 cup good Parmesan cheese, shredded, plus more for garnish
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, minced
  • 1 pound asparagus, ends snapped off and cut into one-inch pieces
  • 2 cups frozen peas
  • 2 cups diced ham
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced, for garnish

In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook pasta according to package directions. Two minutes before the pasta is done, add the asparagus to the boiling water with the pasta. Drain.

Meanwhile, make the sauce. Melt the butter over medium heat in a large, high-sided skillet. Add garlic and cook 30 seconds, or until fragrant. Add flour and thyme and stir until it’s a light brown color. Add chicken broth and whisk constantly until thoroughly combined. Add half and half and parmesan and whisk until smooth. Add more chicken broth if you think it’s too thick. Add salt and pepper to taste. Turn the burner to low.

Add peas, ham, spaghetti and asparagus to the skillet with the sauce and toss gently with tongs until thoroughly combined. Plate and top with more Parmesan and basil. Serve immediately.

HAM AND PINEAPPLE FRIED RICE

Ham and pineapple fried rice, made with leftover ham. (Jess Fleming / Pioneer Press)

Serves 6 generously

Adapted from tasty.co

I think this was everyone’s hands-down favorite from the week. I topped it with a drizzle of Japanese barbecue sauce — available in the global foods section of many grocery stores — and an extra drizzle of sriracha for the adults.

  • 2 teaspoons oil
  • 1/2 cup onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup carrot, diced
  • 1 cup bell pepper, diced
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 cup ham, diced
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 4 cups brown rice, cooked
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons chili garlic sauce
  • pepper, to taste
  • 1 1/2 cup pineapple, diced
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced, optional, for garnish
  • Sriracha and Japanese barbecue sauce, optional, for drizzling

In a wok or deep skillet, heat up the oil over high heat and cook onion, garlic, carrots, bell peppers, and ham until onions are translucent and ham is slightly browned. Push all of the cooked ham and vegetables to the side of the pan.

Beat the eggs and pour into the cleared half of the pan. Scramble the eggs and mix with the rest of the vegetables.

Add rice, soy sauce, pepper, peas, chili garlic sauce and pineapple. Mix well and let the rice cook until slightly crispy.

Plate and garnish with scallions, barbecue sauce and/or sriracha.

CHICKEN CORDON BLEU SOUP

Chicken cordon bleu soup made with leftover ham.
Chicken cordon bleu soup made with leftover ham. (Jess Fleming / Pioneer Press)

Serves 4

Adapted from pioneerwoman.com

I highly recommend making your own croutons to go with this ultra-hearty, ultra-comforting soup. Cut your bread into your desired size, drizzle with olive oil, season with salt, pepper and whatever else floats your boat — usually garlic powder for me — and bake at 375 until crisp. It usually takes about 10 minutes for me. It’s a great way to use up stale bread, and tastes so much better than store-bought.

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1 cup low-sodium hicken broth
  • 2 chicken breasts, cooked and cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 cup cubed ham
  • 4 teaspoons whole grain mustard
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 6 ounces Swiss cheese, shredded
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Croutons, optional, for serving

Melt butter in a medium-sized soup pan. Add onion and cook over medium-low heat until tender, about 10 minutes. You can cover the pot to make the onion cook faster.

Sprinkle in flour and whisk until smooth. Cook for 2 minutes.

Pour in half each of the milk, half and half, and chicken broth and whisk until smooth. Gradually add the rest. Bring to a boil, stirring often. Boil and stir 1 minute.

Remove from heat and add chicken, ham, mustard, parsley, and Swiss cheese. Stir until cheese is completely melted. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.

Serve immediately, garnished with croutons.

HAM AND BROCCOLI CASSEROLE

Ham and broccoli casserole made with leftover ham
Ham and broccoli casserole made with leftover ham. (Jess Fleming / Pioneer Press)

Serves 8

Adapted from thenovicechefblog.com

Usually I’m against canned soup as a casserole or hotdish binder — I’d rather make my own cream sauce —  but it was a busy week, so I caved. I buy the low-sodium version, Amy’s if I can find it. The kids loved this. I thought it was decent for a quick meal, but would definitely play around with making my own sauce next time.

  • 12 ounces egg noodles
  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 1 cup carrots, chopped
  • 1 cup milk
  • 10 ounce can low-sodium cream of mushroom soup
  • 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 6 ounces chive cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups chopped ham
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9×13 casserole dish, set aside.

In a large pot, bring 2 quarts water to a boil. Cook egg noodles for 4 minutes less than the package recommends. Add broccoli and carrots and cook 3 minutes more. Drain immediately. (You do not want to over cook your noodles, otherwise you will end up with a soggy casserole.)

Combine milk, cream of mushroom soup, cheddar cheese, and cream cheese in a large bowl; until smooth. Fold in noodle mixture, ham and salt and pepper to taste.

Spread the noodle mixture evenly in prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the bread crumbs evenly over casserole.

Cover casserole with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 10 minutes, or until topping is lightly browned.

HAM AND BRUSSELS HASH

Brussels sprout hash with ham, made with leftover ham
Brussels sprout hash with ham, made with leftover ham. (Jess Fleming / Pioneer Press)

Serves 4

One of my favorite ways to use up leftover vegetables, especially brussels sprouts, is to make hash. Sometimes I buy a bag of the pre-shredded stuff when I’m craving it, though, because I can have a 15-minute, nutritious lunch when I don’t have to prep the sprouts. I also used bagged matchstick carrots, but you can add just about anything lingering in your produce drawer — shredded sweet potatoes, diced zucchini, fresh corn cut from the cob, traditional potatoes, I’ve used it all. I do love the bittersweetness of brussels when they get some caramelization in my cast iron skillet, so I tend to start with them and add whatever I have laying around. The diced ham adds a perfect amount of smoky and salty to this party.

  • 3 cups shaved Brussels sprouts
  • 1 cup matchstick cut carrots
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 cup diced ham
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Fried egg or two, optional

Heat the olive oil in a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering.

Add Brussels sprouts, carrots, ham and garlic and saute until vegetables are soft and ham and vegetables are starting to brown.

Top with fried eggs and serve immediately.