A little basic information and a dozen ways to make use of those marvelous leftovers. I’d like to know what YOU do with your ham leftovers – those special comfort food recipes that you can’t wait to make every year. (For Turkey Leftovers, see 12 Days of Turkey.)
There are so many special ways to cook ham: family recipes, guides, instructions, etc., that I’m not going to go into specifics here. It’s nice to think about how strongly you may be flavoring with glazes and such, because that will affect the taste of your leftovers. I generally cook mine simply, and I use beer as a basting liquid, or if I have none of that, I’ll use some kind of sweet soda. So simple, and so moist and delicious. If I have a choice, and am buying a half ham, I generally go for the shank end. It looks tougher to carve and serve, but in all actuality, I think it’s easier than the butt end, and has a better bone for soups. I always buy the largest ham I can afford, and often buy several during the holidays just to freeze.
Now, on to the best part: The Leftovers. Here’s how I handle the Ham:
- When the ham gets back to the kitchen, I almost always have volunteers for the basic cleaning duties. Yeah, I let them help. Just because I know it makes them feel so good. Umhm. I like to work with the ham before I cool it down in the fridge. The meat and any fat is softer and more yielding so it saves a lot of work later, and it prevents the ham from sitting there, poor thing, languishing in crumpled foil somewhere in the back corner. And quite often, once it’s in that corner in the packed fridge, it just doesn’t make it back out any time soon. Just try to keep your momentum going for a few more minutes and get this done.
- First, take enough slices to save for sandwiches and save in a Ziploc in the fridge.
- Look at the cut end of the ham and you’ll see there’s generally one larger roundish area in the ham, surrounded by a caul of fat. I actually reach in with my hands and knife and separate this out. This I dice into nice cubes, maybe about 1/2″ or a little less, to use for casseroles and dishes that I want to look “pretty.”
- You’ll have to work a little harder for the other pieces, so I carve, slice and hack my way through about all I can get. Both of these go into small freezer bags in 1/3 cup to 1 1/2 cup amounts, depending on what I want to use them for. You have to judge how far you want it to go, and how many meals you’ll get out of it and what recipes you’ll be using. That’s why it’s nice to have some “go to” recipes your family likes.
- By the time I shot the picture above, We’d already had ham, and ham leftovers, and sandwiches, and I’ve made two soups, Navy Bean and Split Pea, and put some of each in the freezer. Here’s the rest of the ham, destined, too, for the freezer. The best part about the soups and the leftover ham for the freezer? These meals will actually generate leftovers of their own. Can I shout out an unreserved “Bonus,” while I’m humming my 12 days of Ham song in my head?
- If I don’t make soup right away, I take the bone and put it into a large Ziploc for later, and refrigerate or freeze. Any accumulated sauce or jellied ham juices go right into the bag with the bone. They’ll add wonderful flavor to your soups.
Here’s what I do with those leftovers, keeping in mind, again, that you can freeze ham in the appropriate portions for a recipe, if you have an idea what you’re going to make. Look my recipes or your own before you buy the ham: in the same trip, you can buy everything you need to make any of the recipes you’d like to make right away, and save yourself a trip to the store.
12 Ham Recipes: From Easy to Elegant
- Day 1: Classic Deviled Ham: Basic or updated, this spread is addictive!
- Day 2: Easy One Dish Ham Bake: Just a little something different, very easy, quick and a fun dish for kids to make. This casserole works really well with chicken or turkey, too. It’s a great for brunch or dinner.
- Day 3: - Open Faced Broiled Sandwich. Do I need to discuss this topic? Maybe not, but here’s how I do it.
- Day 3: Hot Brown Sandwich - A light version of the famous Hot Brown.
- Day 5: Split Pea Soup with Ham - A hearty and often overlooked soup, it’s so much better than you’ve ever imagined if you’ve only had the canned stuff. I’m pretty cheap, if there is a lot of meat still on the bone, I may save out some for casseroles. If I’m using the shank end, I’ll generally have a very big bone. I’ll often make double broth, then divide the broth up and make Navy Bean Soup as well. Feel free to freeze these soups – they will separate, but will come back together as you heat and stir.
- Day 6: Scalloped Potatoes & Ham - It’s an absolute classic, a pure comfort dish. This is one of those dishes where I use up all those funky little scraps and pieces of ham.
- Day 7: Elegant Wild Rice Soup: Something a bit different from the ubiquitous Rice Soup we’re all familiar with.
- Day 8: Potato Cheese Strata- A welcome change from all the bread stratas out there.
- Day 9: Navy Bean Soup- This is different from all those “Senate” Bean soups out there, which we like…but we like this better!
- Day 10: Old Fashioned Ham Loaf - Grandmas recipe, and always a relief when she made this rather than some of her other meals!
- Day 11: Lentil and Ham Soup - Subtly flavored with cinnamon, bay and thyme, this simple (and very frugal) soup works so well after a day of Holiday indulgence!
- Day 12: Cuban Bean Soup – One of my favorites!
What are your favorite family recipes for using leftover Ham? You know what I mean, the ones you’re really thinking about while you’re eating your holiday ham!
- 5 Delicious Ways to Use Leftover Ham (gthankyou.com)