Ham, ham, ham. It started at Easter dinner, became a ham and biscuit affair for breakfast, a grilled ham and cheese sandwich for lunch and served as the basis for the split pea soup I made. Split pea soup is my favorite soup, because it was my grandmother’s favorite soup and also reminds me of my Aunt Josie. She took me once to her friend Dolly’s house for lunch and we had delicious split pea soup and salami sandwiches, which has now become my go-to comfort food.
It was also used as an easy snack throughout the day. Other ideas for using leftover ham: a ham and cheese omelet, quiche, chef’s salad (with hard boiled egg), ham salad, on pizza with pineapple or a flatbread, thrown into Mac and cheese or other pasta dishes, in soup or beans; ham can also be made into delicious, homemade croquettas.
I’ve turned to my good old trusty and cooking-battered Fanny Farmer Cookbook for some of these classic recipes and I love this quote from my 1979 edition:
“It seems almost superfluous to make suggestions for using leftover ham, it has so many uses. In fact, ham is something you never want to be without. As a Virginia-born friend, Edna Lewis, said of her childhood: ‘Ham held the same rating as the basic black dress. If you had ham in the meat house any situation could be faced. On short notice it would be sliced and fried with special red gravy…The smoked shoulder was indispensable as a seasoning for other meat dishes; a slice would be added in to fried chicken, rabbit or quail. It was used also in boiled pots of cabbage, beans, watercress and black-eyed peas’.”
The Fanny Farmer Cookbook, 1979
If you have leftover ham, and can’t find inspiration in any of the above suggestions, this is a very easy recipe from James Beard’s cookbook, Beard on Pasta. I won’t make this because: #1 my family doesn’t like peas (I do) and #2 I have no peas. But ham and peas are a natural combination; farafelle (bow tie) pasta would be perfect for this dish, but most any short pasta will do. If you have no cream, you could just make this with butter.
Ham and Peas James Beard
Very simple. Pour a cup of heavy cream into a saucepan. Let it cook down and thicken slightly, and add some peas and bits of ham. Pour over hot noodles and sprinkle on quite a lot of grated cheese.
Now, if you have leftover hard boiled eggs, the logical first choice is to make egg salad with them. I love egg salad and, once again, turned to my Fanny Farmer Cookbook for the recipe, which used eight of my eggs. Other options: chopped and served over cold asparagus in a vinaigrette as a salad, in Asian soups and noodle dishes, sliced on toast and covered with Bechamel sauce, as part of a grain bowl, or sliced and served on a savory oatmeal. They are also good just sprinkled with toasted sesame salt and eaten out of hand.
Deviled Eggs are pretty much the little black dress of the egg world. Everyone loves them, they’re first to go at potlucks and are endlessly adaptable. They can be mixed with curry powder, chopped scallions and topped with chutney, mixed with siracha and topped with cilantro or chives, mixed with truffle oil and topped with caviar, mixed with Buffalo sauce, chopped celery and topped with blue cheese, or served Bricktop’s style- topped with candied bacon.
Here’s my mother’s recipe for a classic deviled egg.
Deviled Eggs Lyla Lee Rice
- 12 hard boiled eggs, shelled
- 1/2 mayo (Hellman’s)
- 1/4 cup Miracle Whip
- 1 1/2 tsp. hot dog mustard
- 1 tsp. grated onion
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 3 T sweet pickle relish
Peel eggs. Slice eggs in half and remove yolks. Mash and add other ingredients. Use a pastry bag to fill egg halves for nicer presentation. Decorate with paprika, chopped parsley or pimento. Makes 24.
If you have both leftover ham and hard boiled eggs, you have the making for a classic Chef’s Salad. If you don’t have all of the ingredients, don’t sweat it. As long as you have lettuce, ham, eggs and dressing, you’re good to go. This recipe, from Fanny Farmer Cookbook, says “This is a main dish for a summer evening or a lunch.”
Chef’s Salad Serves 4
- 1 head iceberg
- 12 radishes, trimmed, sliced
- 2 stalks celery, julienned
- 1 1/2 cups French Dressing (recipe below)
- 4 tomatoes, peeled, cut into 6 wedges each
- 3/4 cup Swiss cheese strips
- 1 cup cooked ham, cut into strips 1/8 inch wide
- 1 cup cooked chicken or turkey, 1/8 inch wide
- 4 hard boiled eggs, quartered
- salt and freshly ground pepper
Core the iceberg lettuce and save four outside leaves for the bed in which to put the salad. Place them around the edges of a large salad bowl. Cut or tear the remaining lettuce into bite-size pieces, place in the bowl and toss with radishes, celery and half of the dressing. Arrange the tomato wedges around the inside edges of the lettuce. Combine the cheese, ham and chicken, toss and spread it over the lettuce and vegetable. Place the hard boiled eggs between the tomato wedges. Salt and pepper lightly over the salad. Spoon the rest of the dressing over the salad.
- 2 T vinegar
- 1/2 tsp.salt
- 1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
In a small bowl mix the vinegar and salt and let stand a few minutes. Add the pepper and slowly stir or whisk in the oil. Taste for acid and salt and add more if too bland. Stir to blend before using or store in a jar with a tight lid and shake before using.
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