Hold your ham

Abbondanza.My mother agonizes over each dish at each meal served at her table.  An Italian girl from Jersey, she was raised with “Mangia!” (Eat up!), and “Abbondanza!” (abundance).  The burning question in her mind is, will there be enough?

I offer this advice for all first time diners at Chez Mom.

If you want a lot more, tell her you only want a little.  If you want a little more, tell her you’re full.  If you truly can’t eat another bite; then run, run like the wind, Grasshopper.  But she’ll be ready and waiting for you at her door with a doggy bag large enough to feed you and your entire family until the cows come home, milk themselves, and buy a Dairy Queen franchise.So, there are regularly large quantities of leftovers at my parents’ house.

In my kitchen, except for sauces and gravies, which for some reason I always make too much of, we rarely have leftovers, except by design.  Either I have a plan to transform them into something different, it’s something we really like and relish eating again, or the nature of the dish works better made in quantity; like chili or soup.  Then they get packed up and frozen or are purloined by The Kid.

Throwing away food, to me is a personal failure. Image result for big easter hamAnyway, for holiday meals, my contribution is the ham.  It makes a big impact, feeds a lot of mouths, but is deceptively easy to prepare.  This year it was a 17-pounder.

When the last person took their last bite of dinner, there was at least ten or twelve pounds of ham left.  Everyone got a porcine parting gift.  And I got requests for recipes using that ham.

This has the elements of chicken Cordon Bleu but comes together easier.  You can make one large dish, or multiple smaller dishes, and freeze.

Chicken Cordon Bleu Rice bakecordon bleu rice bakeThe meat from ½ rotisserie chicken, cut into bite-size pieces

2 cups leftover ham, in bite-size pieces

2-6 or 7 ounce boxes long grain and wild rice, made according to directions

5 tablespoons butter + 2 tablespoons for breadcrumbs

½ yellow onion, chopped

4 tablespoons flour

3 cups low-fat milk

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1 cup shredded Swiss cheese + ½ cup for breadcrumbs

¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

1 cup breadcrumbs

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350.  When rice is done, let sit covered until sauce is ready.

For cheese sauce melt 5 tablespoons butter in large heavy saucepan.  Add onion, season, and cook until it’s lightly golden, has released its liquid which has cooked off.  Add flour, and stir.  Cook on medium-low for five minutes to cook out raw flour taste.  Whisk in milk.  Cook on medium, whisking continuously, just until it begins to boil.  Stir in mustard, then cheese, a little at a time until it’s all in.  Season, check, and re-season if necessary.

For breadcrumb topping, melt the 2 tablespoons of butter, and mix with ½ cup Swiss and breadcrumbs.  Season.

Stir together chicken, ham, rice, parsley, and sauce.  Pour into greased dish, cover with foil and bake 20 minutes.  Uncover, top with breadcrumb mixture, and bake 40 minutes, or until golden brown and bubbly.Let sit 10 minutes before serving.  Serves 8.

While sandwiches are great, that leftover meat can be put to much more exciting uses.  And if you have any leftover Easter chocolate, give me a yell, and I can take it off your hands.

Just saying.Thanks for your time.

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