I haven’t written about planned leftovers in a while, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been thinking about them. Yes, I think about possibilities for leftovers when I’m working on my menu, but I also think about them when I go to the monthly farmers’ market near our home before menu planning. We buy most of the meat we will need for the month at this market, generally consisting of the same few favourite items, but with one or two ‘special’ things which the farmers might not have every time. Normally I choose something big for when we plan to have guests, but just occasionally, I can’t resist a large cut for just the two of us. This month is a case in point.
Take one 3 1/2 pound dry cured ham shank and 2 people, and I guarantee there’s going to be leftovers. According to the Joy of Cooking, a joint that size will make about 10 portions, but for smaller appetites increase that to 15 or more. The leftovers possibilities are endless, but without planning, you can easily get stuck in a rut, or worse, be unprepared to carry out all the ideas in your head.
Here’s my menu, which stretched across about 10 days.
Day one: Baked ham with honey BBQ glaze, baked squash with fresh rosemary and garlic, plain steamed leeks.
Day two: Simple casserole of chunky ham pieces, chopped eggplant and canned mushroom soup (not diluted), served with mixed boiled rice.
Day three: Layer casserole of creamy ginger leeks (see my recipe under the ‘recipes’ tab), ham slices and whipped squash.
Day four: Soup made with ham stock and fresh veggies, plus any leftover bits from throughout the week. (A pea or bean soup would have been classic, but I fancied something lighter.)
Also: Thin sliced ham for various lunchtime sandwiches throughout the week.
My remaining store of winter squashes are beginning to look dry, so I baked extra while I had the oven going for the ham on day one. When I whipped them for the casserole on day three, I only removed about a third of the skins, where they seemed too tough to break up in the mixer.
I stripped the bone after the first meal, and simmered it for stock together with some peppercorns, a couple of whole cloves, part of a star anise and a bay leaf. I removed the bones and solid spices and refrigerated a good quart of thick, gelatinous soup base with bits of meat for later in the week.
Stripping the bone created both a nice hunk of meat for slicing and a bunch of smaller odd-shaped pieces. The small pieces needed to be used first, to avoid them drying out, hence the chunky stirred casserole on day two.
The nice hunk could have either thin or thick slices removed as needed, with only one face exposed at any time, so drying was less of a risk. Still, when I made the layer casserole, I pushed the (thick) slices of ham down a bit into the creamy sauce, just to be sure they stayed moist while baking.
What are your favourite leftover ham recipes?