April 13, 2023

Seven Savory Ways to Use Up That Last Bit of Easter Ham

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Easter is a joyful springtime holiday that tends to leave one with lots of leftover eggs and ham. This glut of protein is usually fine, because families often celebrate together and many tummies make light work, but sometimes you still have too much leftover ham. (These hellfire eggs take care of the egg problem.) Whether you overestimated how many people like spiral cut hams, or half of your family stayed home with a cold, there are ways to use up this wealth of hog. Here are seven meal ideas that will help you use those last few ounces or even a couple lingering pounds of delicious cured pork. (Just do it quickly; we’re nearing the end of the ham safety window.)

Make ham egg cups

This is a brunch dish that I love to make. Ham cups are petite, savory, handheld, and you can make them in batches with the help of a cupcake tin. Butter each of the divots in the cupcake tin, then take medium-thin slices of ham and tuck them into each spot. The ham will ripple and fold, and that’s fine. You want to make a “cup” with the ham, but it doesn’t have to be perfect, in fact it probably won’t be. The ham might crack or break and that’s fine too; that’s one reason why you butter the dish first. If you have small ham pieces you can even patchwork the ham a bit. Once the ham is situated, crack an egg into each ham cup and season them with salt. Bake in a 350°F oven for 10-15 minutes, or until the yolk has reached your preferred doneness. Use a knife or spoon to loosen the edges and the ham cups will pop out, ready for brunch to begin.

Top your pizzas

Grocery store prepared pizzas are one of my favorite ways to cook with boxed-food. You can go name brand with Digiorno, or simply buy the grocery store’s brand chillin’ in the refrigerator section, just make sure it’s still in the “raw” state. Choose a plain pizza, or one with toppings that you know will go well with ham. I suggest you also grab a can of pineapple chunks, and you know very well why. Chop up your leftover ham, and scatter it, along with the pineapple, on top of your prepared pizza. Bake according to the box’s directions and enjoy a scrumptious Hawaiian pizza. I suppose you could skip the pineapple, if you take issue with it but I don’t want to know about it.

Whip up a soup

A batch of soup is a great way to take care of two pounds of leftover protein. The more the better—no one likes a scarce drift of meat in their soupso load it up. Ham in soup is nearly as universal as chicken, but it has a little more umami to it. Chip the ham or cut it up into neat cubes and add it into any soup you like. If you want deeper, savory flavor and browning, add the ham in the earliest stages of the soup, before you add any liquid. You can sear the edges of the meat and build a nice fond on the bottom of the pot. Add the stock or broth, and it will deglaze the pot. All of that flavor will become part of the soup. My favorite is a split pea and ham soup, but you could do a ham chowder or ham and rice soup.

Tuck it into a sauce

The salt and umami in ham make it a star candidate for flavorful sauces. You can either boost a sauce that normally stands on its own, or build a sauce around it. Your go-to spaghetti sauce recipe will happily accept a cup of chopped ham. Simply toss it in with enough time to simmer and disperse the flavors. For something more ham-centric, try a ham gravy with biscuits. Make a white roux gravy, and add a helping of chipped ham to the thick sauce. Drape it over biscuits and eggs.

You can casserole it

Casseroles are very kind to additional ingredients. It’s usually a congregation of different savory components anyway, what’s one more? Casseroles are flexible in flavor, there’s usually a carb, like noodles or bread, and there’s no stress on structural integrity because it stays in a dish. Add ham chips to any casserole. Mix chopped ham into the sauce of a potato gratin or mac and cheese, layer small pieces into your lasagna, or make a monte cristo casserole.

Top your salads

A green leafy salad is always looking for a star ingredient. Give ham a chance to take the stage. Any salad that tastes pretty good with sliced deli ham is going to taste incredible with hunks of roasted ham on it. For a chopped salad, cut the ham into pieces that are relatively equal-sized to the other ingredients. For chunky salads, like those with halved baby potatoes, whole olives, and quartered cucumbers, leave the ham in bulky strips.

Make it the salad

If you don’t know it already, I think bacon is a salad, so ham can surely receive the same treatment. Chop up ham into quarter-inch pieces. Put it in a bowl with a tablespoon or so of mayonnaise and stir it until combined. Load this ham salad in between a couple slices of bread, and a leaf of lettuce if you enjoy a splash of color, and lunch is served. I dare say, the ultimate post-Easter hack might be chopping up a green-dyed hard boiled egg into the bowl with another spoonful of mayo and enjoying a Christmas-in-spring-themed ham and egg salad sando.

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