Stalking the Waiter

Riffing on foods, flavors and methods, that would be telling.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Hammy, Yammy Goodness

Riffing on Leftover Ham
While my mother was in the hospital earlier this year, I got into the habit of shopping at the nearby Safeway. With all the flooding and road closures, it was one place I was sure of being able to get to. Unfortunately, due to a combination of the holidays and the flooding, they were very low on supplies. In the meat department they had almost nothing - a few roasts and some hams were about it. Ordinarily, I wouldn't buy a huge ham unless I was planning a party. It doesn't freeze well, losing texture dreadfully when you thaw it. But I surrendered because I had no options. (I bought a roast, too.)

Spiral-sliced ham. That had to have been invented by some guy. :G: Sorry, if I've just insulted the whole male gender, but something that gimmicky and, well, counterproductive seems like a kind of guy idea. Think Tim the Toolman Taylor. :G: You can't get a single, intact slice. You have no control over the thickness of the slice. Because there's more surface area accessible to the air, it will spoil more quickly. It's just a really bad idea from a foodie perspective, but I guess it looks cool on a buffet???

Anyway, I'm a few days past desperate for groceries. What can I say? Every time I procrastinate about grocery shopping, when I finally bite the bullet and am ready to head to the store, something happens that I can't go. So, we're out of nearly everything that isn't in a can or a box, but I still have some ham! I'm to the point on the critter where the spiral slicing ended, so I can slice it however I want. Yay.

Here's where riffing is a must. So, ham. Grits/polenta wander through my mind, or should I say flow? I've been craving them for a while but haven't bothered. So, tonight I'm going to make them. Ham and grits. Sounds like a Southern breakfast. But I don't like plain grits. What I love with ham is yams. No fresh ones in the house, though, only canned (for emergencies). Hmmm. What about mixing some canned yams into the grits, making them polenta, IMO? If you can mix pureed root and winter veggies into risotto, then why not into polenta, too?

How to cook the ham? Well, I could cut full slices and pan fry them and make a kind of red eye gravy. Or I could bake what's left and slice it as needed. We'll see how time is going.

Seems like it needs something else. I've got some leftover roasted red peppers. I could julienne them and saute them in a little olive oil with some sliced garlic. That would work if I bake the ham. Or, I guess it would work with the slices as the peppers in the "gravy" I make after frying the ham. Or, to lighten up what could be a very heavy meal, I could do a little salad - if my hearts of Romaine are still useable, and slice the peppers into that. My mouth is starting to water. Either I've come up with the perfect plan, or I'm just getting really hungry. Hmmm. It's 5 PM, and I haven't eaten yet today. Could be a little of both.


Zippy Baked Ham

This will be simple. I'm going to:
  1. rub the ham with a mixture of cayenne and Chinese Five Spice Powder warmed in a little peanut oil (to take the harsh edge off),
  2. tent it with aluminum foil, and bake it at 350 F until it's warmed through.
I'll use the meat thermometer to check the temp. Since this is ham, it won't need to be up to the raw pork mark. I just want it to be pleasantly warmed for eating.

Golden Polenta

This is a 30 minutes or less meal, so, I'm using Quick Grits. Both Albers and Quaker make it, and there are several smaller companies with a similar products on the market. I'm not giving proportions since this is using up leftovers, and you may have more or less than I. Base the amount of polenta you make on the amount of yams you're using, in roughly equal proportions.
  1. Make your instant grits in a pan large enough to comfortably hold the yams, too.
  2. Use canned or leftover yams, mashed or whipped until smooth.
  3. Melt butter in a small dish in the microwave. Add ground coriander*.
  4. Over low/medium heat, combine the whipped yams with the polenta and butter-coriander mixture. Stir, until they are a uniform color and warmed through.

Romaine and Pepper Salad

I ended up baking the ham (did I already say that?), so I sauteed the roasted red peppers in a little of the pan juices and poured them, hot, over my Hearts of Romaine. Sort of like a hot spinach salad. Twas quite tasty.

* For a large can of yams, use 3-4 Tbsp. of butter and 2 Tbsp. of ground coriander. Use that as a basic guideline and adjust to fit the amount you're making.


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