Sunday, December 4, 2011


December 4, 2011
Baked jewel yam
Simple applesauce
Baby peas
Fetzer Riesling
Smooth chocolate pudding

I like ham. It makes for a great dinner and great leftovers. There is reheated ham, ham and eggs (not green), ham sandwiches, grilled ham and cheese, scrambled eggs with ham, omelets  scalloped potatoes, and more. It's super easy to prepare as you buy it precooked so it just needs to be heated. You can glaze it (I fondly remember my mom's mustard and brown sugar glaze) or not. The bone and the small bits of meat that stick to it are great for making soup.

However, a ham weighs weighs six or more pounds, way too much for two people even with all of the possibilities for the leftovers. Ham steaks are an option but they don't have the versatility that a roast has, especially when it comes to leftovers. There are various smaller, packaged hams available (I don't even consider canned hams) but I'm suspicious of just what these things are -- can you say "parts is parts"?

Thus, we don't have ham nearly as often as I would like. I decided it was about time to remedy this. I went to Whole Foods and purchased a 1.6 pound "ham". While I still am not sure just how this was made, I'm trusting Whole Foods to not sell something that has been extensively processed. The label would seem to bear this out.

I warmed up the ham using the instructions on the FAQ at the Wellshire Farms web site:  place it in a 325° oven in a covered pan with 1/4 inch of water oven until the internal temperature is 130°. The instructions didn't say anything about using a rack to keep the meat out of the water so I just placed it in a Pyrex baking dish with some water and put on the lid. They estimated it would take 7-8 minutes a pound. After close to half an hour the temperature in the center of the ham was still less than room temperature. Perhaps they had started with a room temperature ham? In any event, since the rest of the dinner was ready we ate the ham before it got as warm as planned. I should have checked our old dependable Betty Crocker Cookbook which suggests more like 30 minutes a pound to reheat a cooked ham.

I served it with jewel yam which I baked following some on-line instructions. The yam was large and took 90 minutes to cook through. It was the completion of the yam that indicated to me it was time to take the ham out.

I like homemade applesauce with pork and ham is no exception. Usually I just peel and cut up a few apples, throw them in a pan with a little water and maybe some cinnamon. This time I followed a recipe for Simple Applesauce (The Complete America's Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook, 2010, p. 386) using Pink Lady apples. The recipe called for coring then cooking the apples with their peels then running them through a food mill. Since I prefer my applesauce to be lumpy I peeled them and just mushed them with a spoon as they cooked. It came out well.

Frozen baby peas served as the vegetable. They're our favorite vegetable and the color provided a good contrast for all of the pale foods that made up the rest of the menu.

Our beverage was a nice, inexpensive (not that we ever buy expensive wines) Riesling from Fetzer.

For dessert I made pudding. Not from a box, mind you, but from scratch, using the recipe for Creamy Chocolate Pudding from the September 2011 issue of Cooks Illustrated. I don't think I've ever made scratch pudding before; mousse, yes, but pudding, no. It wasn't that much harder to do than making pudding from a box, the only tedious part of the process is the stirring and you have to do that for both. The result, however, was infinitely more satisfying. The pudding was smooth and chocolaty and delicious. This is a dessert we'll definitely be having again. It kept well, too, and we enjoyed it for dessert several times during the week.

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