leftovers

One of the conundrums which accompanies hosting the holidays is what to do with all your leftovers.  Sometimes we have a party to rid ourselves of the extra (Leftover Thanksgiving, a hit two years running with our friends).  Sometimes we just give them away (my sister-in-law typically comes over to stock up on weekday lunches on Sunday nights.  Love getting rid of our leftovers that way!)

But sometimes — like this weekend — we just have a lot of leftover food to contend with.

This is a problem for me.  I really can’t stand eating the same thing for more than about 2 days in a row (it’s actually nauseating).  To compound the problem, Dave has an aversion for wasting food (so I can’t just throw stuff out, which is wasteful, yes, but what I would probably do).

What do you do with leftovers?

We had a bunch of ham leftover from the holidays — and roots galore in season right now, so I perused the internet for a little inspiration… and didn’t get a whole lot.  I’m wary of gratins with ham (I’ve been burned before)… but really, REALLY wanted to use up some of this damned ham.  But I don’t like clumpy cheese or watery taters… and that got me to thinking about how AWESOME my dear husband’s mac and cheese (a basic bechamel combined with cooked noodles, shredded cheese, and baked with a breadcrumb topping)… And then I got hungry.

But it also made good sense to apply to ham and taters, so I modified about 6 different recipes, the result of which is follows (and, I think will be going into regular rotation.

Green Toews Ham & Cheese Gratin Hotdish

(serves 6-8)

  • 4 cups diced russet potatoes, skin-on
  • 1 cup finely diced onion
  • 1/2 cup finely diced shallot
  • 2 cloves super-fine minced garlic
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 5 tablespoons flour
  • 2 1/2 cups milk
  • 3/4 teaspoon Coleman’s mustard (really, don’t bother with any other kind)
  • 1 teaspoon paprika (I used half-sharp, but you can use whatever your palate prefers)
  • 1 cup finely-grated Parmesan
  • 1 cup finely-shredded extra-sharp cheddar
  • 2 cups diced cooked ham
  • 3/4 cup bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Sautee onion, shallot and garlic in a large saucepan til just softened (you’ll want to use a little olive oil in the bottom of a hot pan to get this process started).  Add potatoes (and more oil if necessary) and cook the aromatics and potatoes together til softened and beginning to brown – about 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and set aside.

In another saucepan, melt the butter.  Once melted, add the flour and whisk to create a roux.  Continue whisking til slightly browned.   Slowly stir in milk and whisk constantly til smooth and thick; then add mustard, paprika, salt and pepper to taste (under-salt this as your ham and cheese are going to add plenty to this dish).  Remove from heat and set aside.  (This is basically a bechamel… which I’ll refer to it as going forward).

Grab your lasagna pan (this is a 9×13 pyrex casserole dish, in my house) and toss in the potato/aromatics mixture.  Add ham and stir to combine.  Add shredded cheese and give it another stir. Use a rubber spatula and pour the bechamel over the contents of the pan.  Use the rubber spatula to gently combine.  Top the casserole with bread crumbs.

Bake for 30-40 minutes at 350.  You might want to use the last 5 minutes to broil the top and brown your breadcrumb