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Five recipes for all that leftover ham

Five recipes for all that leftover ham

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

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

After cooking the beautiful specimen on our pellet grill, I was left with more than half of it, and most of my family isn’t a fan of leftovers.

Instead of throwing it in the freezer and forgetting about it, I took this as a challenge. I planned a week of dinners with the leftover 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 forgo it this year in the interest of the remaining science.

Ham is the perfect vehicle for such an experiment, as curing extends its life (if properly refrigerated) by several days compared to 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. Not a word about ham.

Since each of the recipes I planned would use diced ham, we cut the ham into bite-sized pieces 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 generous

My kids love Alfredo – I’m not much of a fan unless there are lots of veggies involved. This was a great compromise. We all thought it was quite nice.

  • 16 ounces dried spaghetti

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

  • 1/3 cup flour

  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

  • 2 cups low-sodium or homemade chicken stock

  • 1 cup half and half

  • 1 cup good Parmesan cheese, shredded, plus more for garnish

  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped

  • 1 pound asparagus, ends broken off and cut into 1-inch pieces

  • 2 cups frozen peas

  • 2 cups ham cubes

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

  • Fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced, for garnish

Cook the pasta according to package directions in a large pot of boiling salted water. Two minutes before the pasta is cooked, add the asparagus to the boiling water with the pasta. draining.

Meanwhile, make the sauce. Melt the butter over medium heat in a large, high skillet. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds, or until fragrant. Add flour and thyme and stir until light brown. Add chicken stock and whisk constantly until well blended. Add the half-and-half and Parmesan cheese and beat until smooth. Add more chicken stock if you think it’s too thick. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set the burner to low.

Add peas, ham, spaghetti and asparagus to skillet with sauce and stir gently with tongs until well blended. Plate and top with more Parmesan cheese and basil. Serve immediately.

HAM AND PINEAPPLE FRIED RICE

Serves 6 generous

Adapted from tasty.co

I think this was everyone’s favorite favorite of the week. I topped it off with a drizzle of Japanese BBQ sauce—available in the global food section of many grocery stores—and an extra splash of sriracha for the grown-ups.

  • 2 teaspoons oil

  • 1/2 cup onion, diced

  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

  • 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 cups pineapple, diced

  • 1 spring onion, thinly sliced, optional, for garnish

  • Sriracha and Japanese BBQ sauce, optional, to drizzle

Heat the oil in a wok or deep skillet over high heat and cook the onion, garlic, carrots, bell pepper and ham until the onions are translucent and the ham is lightly browned. Slide all cooked ham and vegetables to the side of the pan.

Beat the eggs and pour into the cleaned half of the pan. Beat 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 gently until it is slightly crispy.

Plate and garnish with spring onions, barbecue sauce and/or sriracha.

CHICKEN CORDON BLUE SOUP

Serves 4

Adapted from pioneerwoman.com

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

  • 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-sized pieces

  • 1 cup diced 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, to serve

Melt butter in a medium stock pot. Add the onion and cook over medium heat until soft, about 10 minutes. You can cover the pan to help the onion cook faster.

Sprinkle with flour and beat until smooth. Boil for 2 minutes.

Pour in half the milk, half and half, and chicken stock and whisk until smooth. Gradually add the rest. Bring to a boil, stirring often. Cook and stir for 1 minute.

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

Serve immediately, garnished with croutons.

HAM AND BROCCOLI TOP TRAY

Serves 8

Adapted from thenovicechefblog.com

I’m usually against canned soup as a casserole or hot dish thickener – I’d rather make my own cream sauce – but it’s been a busy week, so I gave in. I’ll buy the low sodium version, Amy’s if I can find it. The kids loved this. Thought it was good 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 of milk

  • 10 ounce can low-sodium 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 breadcrumbs

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9×13 baking dish and set aside.

Bring 2 liters of water to a boil in a large saucepan. Boil egg noodles 4 minutes less than recommended on the package. Add broccoli and carrot and cook for a further 3 minutes. Drain immediately. (You don’t want to overcook your noodles or you’ll end up with a soggy casserole.)

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

Spread the noodle mixture evenly in the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs evenly over the frying pan.

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

HAM AND BRUSSELS HASH

Serves 4

One of my favorite ways to use up leftover vegetables, especially Brussels sprouts, is to make hash. However, sometimes I buy a bag of the pre-cut stuff when I feel like it because I can have a nutritious 15-minute lunch when I don’t have to prep the sprouts. I’ve also used bagged matchsticks, but you can add just about anything left in your produce drawer – shredded sweet potatoes, diced zucchini, fresh corn on the cob, traditional potatoes, I’ve used it all. I love the bittersweetness of Brussels when they caramelize a bit 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 feast.

  • 3 cups shaved Brussels sprouts

  • 1 cup match cut carrots

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped

  • 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 heat until shimmering.

Add Brussels sprouts, carrots, ham and garlic and cook until vegetables are tender and ham and vegetables are starting to brown.

Sprinkle with fried eggs and serve immediately.

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