Some ideas for nights of ‘Hamelot’

If a ham is the centrepiece of your Easter celebrations, then these recipes are for you. There is nothing like a cured bone-in ham, glazed and decorated then baked in the oven. Its spicy smokiness is a welcome taste at the dinner table but the leftovers are amazing! Save that bone! Split pea soup is a must—and oh so tasty on these still frosty days.

Then there are all the little ham tidbits that can be chopped and added to egg and cheese for a quiche filling, not to mention finely chopped and mixed with mustard for a hearty sandwich or used instead of bacon with eggs, pizza or pasta. Yes, the list can go on and on, a veritable ‘Hamelot’ of ideas, but I have chosen just a few of my favourites for you to enjoy.

Ham and Split Pea Soup

An old-fashioned favourite, this can make a hearty lunch or supper if served with a homemade bread.

1 1/2 cups (375 mL) split
green peas
water to cover
1 ham bone
6 cups (1.5 L) hot water
2 celery stalks, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 onion, diced
1 bay leaf
1 tsp (5 mL) salt
1/2 tsp (2 mL) fresh black pepper

Soak the green peas in cold water overnight. The next day, drain. In a large stainless steel saucepan, add hambone, hot water, celery, carrots, onion and bay leaf. Bring to boil; reduce heat and simmer about two hours. Remove hambone and bay leaf. Season with salt and pepper. Taste; add more seasoning if required. Serve with a spoonful of yogurt or sour cream. Makes four to six generous servings.

Ham and Egg Pie

This is an adaptation of my Auntie Joan’s English recipe for ham and egg pie. It makes a tasty luncheon dish and is perfect for pot lucks as it is very portable. Serve with mustards and chutneys, a salad and crusty bread.

Enough pastry for a 9-inch (23 cm) pie with a lid or use two 9-inch pie shells
1 tbsp (15 mL) Dijon mustard
3 cups (750 mL) diced, smoked, fully cooked ham
5 or 6 eggs
fresh black pepper and grated nutmeg
1 cup (250 mL) grated old cheddar

Preheat oven to 425˚F (220˚C). Spread the mustard on the bottom of the pie shell. Sprinkle the pie evenly with the diced ham. Make five egg-shaped indentations around the edge of the pie. Break an egg into each indentation. Sprinkle eggs with fresh black pepper and pinches of fresh grated nutmeg. Sprinkle the cheese evenly over the eggs. Invert the remaining pie shell over the pie and remove foil container or roll pastry to fit the nine-inch (23 cm) pie and layer over pie. Brush with egg wash (one egg beaten with 1 tbsp water). Crimp the edges of the pastry together; cut decorative slits into pie. Bake in the oven at 425˚F (220˚C) 15 minutes; reduce heat to 400˚F (220˚C) and continue cooking another 15 minutes or until pastry is golden brown. Cool on cooling rack; serve warm or cool. Makes five to six servings.

Ham Steaks in Cider Sauce

This is a recipe my mother always made with leftover ham steaks or slices of ham. The sweet and sour sauce is a perfect match with the ham. Serve with rice and vegetables of your choice.

2 to 4 thin ham slices of ham about 1/4 inch (6 mm) thick

Cider Sauce

1/2 cup (125 mL) brown sugar
1/4 cup (50 mL) cider vinegar or red wine vinegar
1 tsp (5 mL) dry mustard
1/4 cup (125 mL) raisins, rinsed in hot water

Preheat oven to 350˚F (180˚C). Spray a baking pan large enough to hold ham in single layer with baking spray. Arrange ham in single layer in the baking pan. In mixing bowl, whisk together brown sugar, cider vinegar and mustard. Drizzle sauce over ham; sprinkle evenly with drained raisins. Bake in oven 25 to 30 minutes or until heated through. Serve immediately.

Jan Main is an author, cooking instructor and caterer 416-265-8445.

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