What to do with leftover spiral ham?
There are many nights I have no clue what I'm going to prepare for dinner until about an hour before my wife comes home from work. I know this isn't the way I suggest people cook during the week but guess what - it's how many of us cook.
It's much better to prepare a meal plan on Sunday prior to going to the supermarket to do your week's shopping. Figure out what you want to serve, prepare a list and get all the shopping done in one trip.
Somehow, it just doesn't work that way in our household. My wife who is much better organized than yours truly gets Monday and sometimes Tuesday figured out but the rest of the week is composed of some recipe I want to try, leftovers, an easy night out or a clean out the refrigerator meal.
Last week I had one of those nights where I had no clue what to make at 5:30 and my wife coming home in 45 minutes so I did a quick search in the freezer and found a frozen leftover piece of spiral ham from who knows when. It was vacuumed packed using my FoodSaver so I wasn't worried about freezer burn even though I'm sure it had been hiding in the freezer for a while.
A quick defrost in the microwave and I had the start of something good. I was in the mood for a stew to help clean out my vegetable drawer in the refrigerator. Nothing like a soup, stew or braise to use up some aging vegetables starting to look a little tired and a day or two away from being tossed.
As I'm writing this, I'm wondering why I don't take the time to prep these aging vegetables, give them a quick blanch, vacuum seal them and freeze them for future soups and stews instead of giving them the heave ho. How many of you do this with your vegetables?
I made up this recipe as I was preparing it. I had no idea what was going to go into it until I looked deep into the refrigerator and found items that needed to be rescued from obscurity. I know this is going to annoy some of you reading this but I didn't measure anything out.
When I post recipes like this I often get a comment from someone saying how much of this or how much of that did you use and can only say, "I don't know, I didn't measure it."
The truth is there is no right amount in a recipe like this. There are some basics ingredients I know I'm going to use like the ham, beans, garlic, onion and extra virgin olive oil but after that it's "what's on hand".
You never know how a dish like this is going to turn out but more times than not it is fabulous. How do I justify calling a dish fabulous? When both my kids and my wife eat every bite and then go back for more.
I served this spiral ham stew over half white - half brown rice. My wife and I wished we started the kids on brown rice as babies but we didn't and now they won't eat brown rice alone.
However, I find if I combine half white with half brown they have no idea there's brown rice being served and love it. Not that I'm trying to trick the girls but I hope they don't read this post anytime soon.
The next day I had the leftovers for lunch and I wish I had some mushrooms to get rid of when I originally prepared this dish. I think the earthiness of the mushrooms would have given it an even richer flavor. Next time I will give them a try.
Saying that, you don't have to wait until your vegetables are nearing their end to make this dish. I'm sure it would taste even better with fresh veggies but sometimes we have to go with what we have.
This was a great way to use up some of that leftover spiral ham but after I used all I need for the stew, there was still the bone with a bunch of meat left on it. I'm sure you all know where that was going to be used - Split Pea Soup of course.
Spiral Ham Stew Recipe
- olive oil some for sautéing the vegetables
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 10 ounces shredded carrots
- ¼ bulb fennel chopped
- ½ cup fresh cauliflower broken into pieces
- ½ cup broccoli florets broken into pieces
- 15 ounces kidney beans canned, with liquids
- 15 ounces Great Northern beans canned, with liquids
- 1 tablespoon fresh sage minced
- 3 cups diced spiral ham
- salt and pepper to taste
- Heat up a tablespoon or two of olive oil in a sauce pan or soup pot over medium high heat. When hot, add the onion and cook for a few minutes before adding the garlic. When the onion is slightly browned, add the carrots and cook for 2 - 3 minutes.
- Add the cauliflower and broccoli and continue cooking for another 2 - 3 minutes. Add the beans with their liquids and fresh sage, stir everything together and cook for 10 minutes. Do not let this boil. It should just simmer.
- Since the ham is already cooked, it only needs to be reheated with the beans. This should take about 5 minutes.
- Taste and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper.
- Serve with rice or couscous or by itself. This is one of those delicious, "what's on hand" meals perfect during the week when you are looking for something quick & easy. I'm sure it would be great with leftover beef, chicken or pork as well.
- Let me know what variations you come up with for the rest of us to try.