Fact: Nearly 70 percent of all Americans who eat ham have served it at Easter.
And that can mean only one thing: Nearly 70 percent of all Americans who eat ham have found themselves with leftover ham the next day.
Leftover ham lends its distinctive flavor to any number of dishes. The combination of salt and smoke have enlivened untold acres of quiche, oceans of soup and fields of beans.
But what if you're tired of quiche/soup/beans? What if one more plate of scalloped potatoes and ham will make you scream?
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Easter is Sunday, which means Monday is Leftover Ham Day. This is the year to do something a little more fun with your ham.
Do you like a ham sandwich? Make it better. Enjoy a quesadilla? Try one with ham. Caught up in the Brussels sprouts fad? See what ham can add. Fond of spicy, cheesy breakfast sandwiches?
Ham it up.
Let's start with that somewhat spicy, cheesy breakfast sandwich. If you kind of squint at it, it resembles a certain egg, cheese and English muffin sandwich available at a very popular fast-food restaurant. Let's call it an Egg O'Muffin.
But a homemade Ham and Cheddar Green Chile Breakfast Sandwich is so much better than an Egg O'Muffin. The difference is the loving care with which you make it, the ingredients selected to best match your personal taste, the time and effort you put into crafting the perfect sandwich.
Also, it has hash browns in it. Sandwiches with fried eggs in them may be the latest trend right now, but sandwiches with fried eggs and hash browns are where it's at.
At its heart, the Ham and Cheddar Green Chile Breakfast Sandwich – admittedly, not as good a name as Egg O'Muffin – is just a clever way to repackage the classic combination of ham and eggs. Nothing goes better with ham and eggs than an English muffin, and melted cheese helps pretty much everything it is on.
But it is the mild green chiles that bring everything together. They add a little spice, but not too much, along with the highly pleasing flavor of green pepper.
They were so good, I had two.
But I was still hungry (well, not really), so I made a Ham Baguette With Cheese Butter. This raises the humble ham-and-cheese sandwich to unsuspected new heights.
It's not just the arugula tossed lightly with a lemon vinaigrette, although you could argue that arugula with a lemon vinaigrette is perhaps the key to lifelong happiness. It's not even the strawberry jam, which, let's face it, is a great addition to any food, anywhere.
The real secret to this sandwich's success is the cheese butter. Picture this: brie and butter that have both been softened are mixed together and smeared on the bottom half of a baguette.
The only thing that could be better than that is a couple of slices of ham on top of it. And arugula with lemon vinaigrette. And a top half of the baguette that has been spread with strawberry jam.
Next up was a side dish, Shaved Brussels Sprouts With Frizzled Ham, which I decided to make in no small part due to the fact that I like the word "frizzled."
Brussels sprouts, of course, are as trendy these days as sandwiches with fried eggs in them. This method of preparing the sprouts involves sauteing a lot of shallots and garlic and mixing in a bit of fresh orange juice for a hint of contrasting sweetness.
The original recipe's insistence on adding orange zest turned out to be a bitter mistake, so I left it out of my version. A splash of vinegar lends just the right acidic counterpoint to the Brussels sprouts, while pine nuts add a touch of class.
And the whole thing is topped with strips of salty ham that have been fried until they are crisp. Frizzled, you might say.
Finally, I made Layered Ham and Cheese Quesadillas. They are kind of like Tex-Mex club sandwiches with two layers of refried beans, ham, melted Monterey jack cheese and chopped chiles separated by toasted flour tortillas and topped with salsa.
How was it? How do you think? It's two layers of refried beans, ham, melted Monterey jack cheese and chopped chiles separated by toasted flour tortillas and topped with salsa.
Yeah, it's that good.
HAM AND CHEDDAR GREEN CHILE BREAKFAST SANDWICH
Yield: 4 servings
4 (1/2-inch-thick) slices of cooked ham, cut to fit an English muffin
4 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
4 whole canned green chiles, drained, split open and trimmed to fit an English muffin
4 slices cheddar cheese
4 English muffins, split, toasted and lightly buttered
1/2 cup cooked hash brown potatoes (homemade or frozen), warm
1. In a large, nonstick skillet over medium heat, heat the ham until browned, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate, cover to keep warm an set aside.
2. If necessary, wipe out the skillet. Return it to medium heat and coat with nonstick spray. One at a time, add the eggs and sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Cook until set on one side, 11/2 to 2 minutes. Carefully turn the eggs, then top with the chiles and cheese. Cover and cook until the eggs are set and the cheese is melted, about 1 minute. Remove pan from the heat.
3. Arrange the bottoms of the English muffins on plates or a platter. Top with the hash browns, ham and eggs. Add the muffin tops and serve.
Per serving: 451 calories; 22 g fat; 11 g saturated fat; 122 mg cholesterol; 27 g protein; 35 g carbohydrate; 4 g sugar; 3 g fiber; 1,660 mg sodium; 326 mg calcium
Recipe by Jerry Flake, via National Pork Board
HAM BAGUETTE WITH CHEESE BUTTER
Yield: 4 servings
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons spreadable brie cheese or other triple-creme cheese (rind removed), room temperature
Salt and pepper to taste
2 small baguettes
2 cups arugula, lightly packed
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons strawberry jam
8 ounces cooked ham, thinly sliced
1. With a fork, mash together the butter and brie until thoroughly mixed. Season with salt and pepper to taste. This cheese butter will hold in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
2. Slice baguettes in half and place under a broiler, cut side up, and toast until golden brown. Lightly dress the arugula with lemon juice and olive oil, and hold. Spread the cheese butter evenly on the bottom half of each toasted baguette and spread the strawberry jam evenly on the top half. Place half of the ham slices on each bottom half, top with the lightly dressed arugula and the top half of the baguette.
Per serving: 506 calories; 20 g fat; 8 g saturated fat; 56 mg cholesterol; 23 g protein; 59 g carbohydrate; 13 g sugar; 2 g fiber; 1,223 mg sodium; 77 mg calcium
Adapted from a recipe by Chef Cosmo Gross, via the National Pork Board
SHAVED BRUSSELS SPROUTS WITH FRIZZLED HAM
Yield: 8 servings
1 3/4 pounds Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed, outer leaves removed
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 slices cooked ham (about 3 ounces), cut in half, then cut crosswise into \-inch strips
2 tablespoons butter
2 cups shallots, thinly sliced (about 8 to 10)
6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup pine nuts
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar or white wine vinegar
Salt and pepper
1. Slice the Brussels sprouts thin, either in a food processor fitted with a thin slicing disc or with a knife. Set aside.
2. In a large saucepan or small stockpot over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the ham and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisped and golden, 3 to 4 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to a plate and set aside.
3. Add butter to the same pan and melt over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until almost translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for 1 minute. Stir in the Brussels sprouts and orange juice and cook, stirring occasionally, until Brussels sprouts are tender, about 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the pine nuts and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Transfer to a serving bowl, top with the ham and serve.
Per serving: 236 calories; 10 g fat; 3 g saturated fat; 13 mg cholesterol; 9 g protein; 31 g carbohydrate; 13 g sugar; 8g fiber; 203 mg sodium; 94 mg calcium
Adapted from a recipe by the National Pork Board
LAYERED HAM AND CHEESE QUESADILLAS
Yield: 8 servings
12 (8-inch) flour tortillas
1/4 cup oil
1 (15-ounce) can refried black or pinto beans, warmed
1 cup Monterey jack cheese, shredded
1 pound cooked ham, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 cup roasted green chiles, chopped, see note
2 cups salsa
Note: To roast chiles, preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with foil. Place chile or chiles on prepared sheet and bake 15 minutes. Turn the chile over and bake another 15 minutes (these times are for a poblano; smaller peppers will take less time). Allow to cool for a couple of minutes, then wrap chile in plastic wrap. Let sit 10 to 15 minutes, then unwrap and peel off the skin (wear disposable gloves).
1. Preheat broiler. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Put tortillas in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet, brush with oil and broil until toasted, about 3 minutes. Turn and set aside.
2. Spread a thin layer of the warmed beans on one of the tortillas. Top with a few tablespoons of shredded cheese, a sprinkle of cubed ham and some of the green chiles. Repeat process one more time and then top with another tortilla so there are 3 tortillas per stack, with the top tortilla plain. Repeat this process with the remaining tortillas and ingredients.
3. Once you have 4 stacks of quesadillas, drizzle salsas over each of the stacks and sprinkle with a bit of cheese. Place quesadillas back into the oven for a few minutes to melt the cheese. Then, cut each into 4 wedges.
Per serving: 484 calories; 20 g fat; 6 g saturated fat; 44 mg cholesterol; 24 g protein; 50 g carbohydrate; 6 g sugar; 5 g fiber; 1,888 mg sodium; 217 mg calcium
Recipe by the National Pork Board