Ham days

For the last few times I’ve hosted Christmas, I’ve made a root beer ham. I melded a few online recipes into one. Essentially, you make a reduction of root beer (full sugar — no diet!), brown sugar, mustard and ketchup. If your guests like it spicy, you can add in some cayenne or pepper flakes or pepper jelly, but for my parents I leave that out. You boil then simmer the mixture for about ten minutes and then refrigerate it to use the next day.

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In some ways, I think the flavor is more affected by the cloves. I bake from cold with scoring and a heavy hand with the cloves. It bakes 1-3 hours to get up to 110 degrees and then uncovered to 140 degrees, all the while basting with the root beer glaze.

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As part of a meal that included mustard-maple brussel sprouts, glazed carrots, corn pudding, mashed potatoes, bread rolls, pickled cranberries and jello salad, the ham was wonderful.

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There were a lot of leftovers. Initially I intended to make scalloped potatoes and ham, but then my schedule didn’t cooperate.

I did make one dinner soon after the holiday to use most of the veggie leftovers.  I made a 2-serving shepherds pie. The base was the leftover carrots and brussel sprouts — including the glaze for the sauce — along with some ham. I then topped it with mashed potatoes and baked it in the oven for about 30 minutes or until the filling was warm and the top was a little crispy.

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For a few mornings, I delighted in eating some of the ham scrambled into eggs. For vacation mornings, it was a hearty and happy way to start the day.

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I still had some left but not enough to make scalloped potatoes. One night, out of nowhere, the canned deviled ham spread you buy in the store came to mind. I have no idea why since I haven’t had it or ever thought of it before.

I did a google check but assumed it was mostly chopped ham and mayo. A Bon Appetit recipe included cream cheese which seemed like a good addition — more body and richness than just mayo.

I headed to the kitchen. I didn’t want to deal with my large food processor so I pulled out my small chopper. The ham took a few additions, but I’d guess I had about 1.5 cups or a little more.

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In the last batch, I added in two blobs of cream cheese. Since it was cold, I knew it would mix in more easily using the chopper than by hand.

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I blended the ham-cream cheese batch into the rest of the ham with a couple blobs of mayo (I’d guess an equal amount to the cream cheese) and one blob of mustard. I also added a healthy amount of black pepper, but it still needed something so I added my favorite sweet-spicy pickle relish.

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It looks awful but it tastes wonderful, especially on toasted grainy bread.

And it was easier than making scalloped potatoes.

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