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Baked Ham Has Many Uses

On Easter I baked an enormous ham shank that I’d brined in apple and hard cider with a mixture of cloves, bay leaf, juniper berries, cinnamon, allspice and mace. I’d glazed the ham with my own home-made marmalade, and I made a gravy with the drippings and a little Triple Sec. With all due immodesty, this was a fine-tasting ham, one of the best I’ve ever made. Although much ham was eaten, much still remains. So, what do I do with five pounds, give or take, of leftovers?

There are only so many ham sandwiches and reheated ham that one family can consume. I have to find other ways to use it. Some obvious recipes spring to mind. Quiche, for one, or pasta dishes. With asparagus season coming in, making a sauce with asparagus, diced baked ham and a little cream would be easy.

A black bean soup with ham, or plain old black beans and rice with morsels of ham, are good ways to use leftovers, as is red beans and rice with ham. If you’re not too fussy about swapping ingredients, baked ham can be substituted in any recipe that calls for bacon, ham hock, pancetta or, in some cases, prosciutto.

Hoppin’ John

Adapted from “Epicurious” and Emeril LeGasse recipes

Hoppin’ John is a Southern staple famous for blending black-eyed peas or cow peas, ham and rice. The origin of the name is debated but what seems inarguable is that African slaves brought to the Americas imported numerous foods and dishes, including this one. Blending the Low Country rice of the Carolinas with the legumes eaten in various African cultures resulted in this relatively simple dish that can be dressed up or down. Although you can cook the rice separately, I’d cook this in stages, as if making a pilaf, in which the rice is added last and cooked with the other ingredients.

1 medium onion, diced

1/2 cup chopped celery

1-2 tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil

1 cup black-eyed peas, soaked in cold water overnight or soaked using the quick-soak method. Boil enough water to cover the peas and let soak for one hour before draining and using.

1 bay leaf

1 cup rice

2 cups chicken stock or water

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups diced baked ham

In a skillet or casserole dish that you can cover, saute the onion and celery over medium heat until they soften. Add the black-eyed peas and stir them until they are covered with the oil. Now add the bay leaf and rice and combine well. Add the chicken stock or water and one teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil and then reduce to low heat. Cover and let steam for about 30 minutes, testing the peas after 20 minutes to see whether they’re soft. About 10 minutes before the dish is done, add the diced ham.

Stir-fried rice with ham and scallion

Adapted from Grace Young’s “The Breath of the Wok”

2 cups diced baked ham

2 cups cooked rice

16 oz. frozen peas or edamame

1 bunch scallions, chopped

2 cloves garlic, diced

salt and pepper to taste

vegetable or canola oil for cooking

You’ll need to have plain cooked rice on hand before beginning. Heat a wok or skillet to high. You can test its hotness by dropping some cold water on it; if it evaporates almost immediately, it’s ready to go.

Swirl in a tablespoon or two of vegetable or canola oil. Add the scallions and garlic and let cook for about one minute. Add the rice and combine. Then add the ham and peas or edamame. Mix all together thoroughly. Test to see whether it needs salt; a little might be in order. You can eat as is, or serve with a spoonful of soy sauce or sesame oil on top.

Nicola Smith can be reached at nsmith@vnews.com or 603-727-3211.