Three ways with ... left­over ham

Post-Christ­mas, your jaded palate will be very grate­ful for th­ese ideas, says Lucy Corry.

The Press - Zest - - Eat -

TServes 4 as a light meal Prepa­ra­tion: 5 min­utes Cook­ing: 15 min­utes he Christ­mas ham could be seen as a metaphor for all that’s wrong with mod­ern so­ci­ety. Such ex­cess! Such deca­dence! Such despair at the thought of hav­ing to eat slice after slice of painstak­ingly cured pork be­cause the damn thing is tak­ing up too much room in the fridge!

If you fear a sur­feit of ham this fes­tive sea­son, here’s a tip: buy a smaller one.

Or, al­ter­na­tively, buy a big one and start eat­ing it ear­lier. I’m a big fan of hav­ing a hot ham on Christ­mas Eve, not least be­cause hun­gry fridge for­agers can then make them­selves ham sand­wiches in­stead of ask­ing you to cook some­thing in the days af­ter­wards.

Or you could cut th­ese recipes out and hope that they’ll make them for you in­stead.

1. PASTA WITH HAM, ROCKET AND FRESH PEAS

Salty ham, sweet peas, fiery chilli and pep­pery rocket col­lide in this great sum­mer lunch. 400g dried Ital­ian fusilli or penne pasta 2 ta­ble­spoons ex­tra vir­gin olive oil 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced 11⁄ cups chopped ham off the bone

tea­spoon chilli flakes 1 cup fresh pod­ded peas (or frozen) 4 hand­fuls rocket Cook the pasta un­til al dente in plenty of boil­ing salted wa­ter. While the pasta is cook­ing, heat the oil in a heavy fry­ing pan. Toss in the garlic and ham and fry, stir­ring fre­quently, un­til the ham is start­ing to crisp and brown. Add the chilli flakes and keep cook­ing for another 2-3 min­utes.

Just be­fore the pasta is cooked, add the peas to the boil­ing wa­ter. Let them cook for 2 min­utes, un­til bright green, then drain the pasta and peas into a warmed wait­ing bowl. Add the con­tents of the fry­ing pan, in­clud­ing any resid­ual oil, and toss through. Add the rocket and toss again. Serve im­me­di­ately.

2. MONTE CRISTO SAND­WICHES

Makes 2 toasted sand­wiches Prepa­ra­tion: 10 min­utes Cook­ing: 5-7 min­utes One of th­ese per per­son is usu­ally enough, but it’s not for me to be counter of Monte Cris­tos. Th­ese are a very good pick-me-up for any­one suf­fer­ing from too much of a good time the night be­fore. 4 slices of hearty white bread 2 tea­spoons Di­jon mus­tard 2 large slices of ham 4 ta­ble­spoons cream cheese 4 ta­ble­spoons orange mar­malade 2 eggs

cup milk 3 ta­ble­spoons but­ter 1 ta­ble­spoon oil 1 tea­spoon ic­ing sugar Place 2 slices of the bread on a clean board and spread gen­er­ously with cream cheese. Top with the mus­tard then the slices of ham. Spread the other 2 slices of bread with the mar­malade and lay th­ese on top of the ham to make 2 sand­wiches.

Break the eggs into a shal­low bowl and whisk in the milk. Care­fully dip the sand­wiches in the egg mix­ture, coat­ing both sides (as if you were mak­ing French toast).

Melt the but­ter and oil in a large, heavy pan over medium heat. Fry the sand­wiches un­til golden brown on both sides – this will take about 5 min­utes. Let them drain for a minute or 2 on pa­per tow­els, then dust with ic­ing sugar be­fore serv­ing.

3. HAM STOCK

Prepa­ra­tion: 5 min­utes Cook­ing: about 2 hours (mostly unat­tended) Don’t be tempted to throw your ham bone to your dog, it’s not good for them. A few con­tain­ers of ham stock in your freezer is a much bet­ter idea, even if soup weather seems a long way off. 1 ham bone, plus any bits and pieces of left­over meat 1 large onion, peeled, halved 1 large car­rot, peeled, halved 2 cel­ery sticks, halved fresh herbs (a bunch of pars­ley, some sprigs of thyme, a bay leaf or 2) Put ev­ery­thing in a large saucepan with about 2 litres of wa­ter and set over medium heat. Bring to the boil, skim off any nasty scum on the top, then cover and re­duce the heat. Let sim­mer gen­tly for 2 hours, then re­move from the heat and let cool com­pletely.

When cold, strain the stock into a large bowl (dis­card any solids). Chill in the fridge – when it has set you should be able to scrape off and dis­card a layer of fat. Di­vide the stock be­tween some suit­able plas­tic con­tain­ers with lids and store in the freezer.

Photo: KENT BLECHYN­DEN/FAIR­FAX NZ

Ham it up: Pasta with ham, rocket and fresh peas is a great sum­mer lunch.

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