Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Ham for the Holidays
January 5. Also known as the 12th day of Christmas, making it an apropos time to reflect on the holiday season. Although I am back to the grind, I did enjoy a great few weeks upstate with family and friends. And while I did not do a lot of cooking, I did do plenty of eating. But when I did drag out the pots and pans, the one ingredient that kept showing up time and time again was ham. Full disclosure: I don't even really like ham (it has something to do with college and the biology for non-majors class I was required to take -- I'll spare you the details). But there is something about spiral ham that screams holiday. So serve ham diced in a jambalaya-style stew, or hide it under scalloped potatoes, and I'll eat it. Especially if the potatoes are covered with leeks and cream and Gruyere, as in the Williams Sonoma Potato-Leek gratin recipe. I think this is a perfect holiday recipe because, frankly, it's time consuming to clean and cut and cook the leeks, and peel and slice the potatoes, and grate the cheeses. But the end result is worth it. An easier weeknight take on the recipe would be to use the ingredients to make a potato leek soup (after all, if you're going to puree everything, no need to take the care to make perfect 1/4 inch slices!). Of course, this is also a perfect holiday recipe because it's not exactly low calorie. But if your New Year's resolutions allow for a splurge now and then, bookmark this recipe. Happy New Year!