As sure as a floor strewn with wrapping paper and a mild hangover, the days following Christmas will bring leftover ham. Simon Day shares some tasty ideas for how to deal with it.
My favourite part of Christmas comes after December 25 itself. I embrace the days and weeks, even months, of leftover ham. I never get tired of it. Leftover ham sings summer holiday. Leftover ham makes me think of long sunny days filled with reading and test cricket. Leftover ham is a symbol for family time at the beach.
I never get sick of carving off another sliver of ham at any time of the day. I’ll sneak a slice for breakfast smeared in hot English mustard. Ham sandwiches for lunch for weeks. I’ll take slices in the middle of the night just because I can.
But on lazy January days, inspiration for what to do for another ham-based meal can be lacking. So, to help avoid ham fatigue, we’ve compiled The Spinoff’s favourite ways of eating Christmas leftovers – from how to make a great ham sandwich to what to do with the ham bone.
Boxing Day breakfast
Unbelievably, you will wake up on Boxing Day hungry. The perfect way to replenish yourself after Christmas is a breakfast hash. Fry diced ham with leftover chunks of potato salad, chilli and onions. Then crack eggs on top and you’ve got a replenishing breakfast ahead of a long day watching the Black Caps play in their first MCG Boxing Day test in 30 years.
The ham sandwich
A great ham sandwich should be simple. Don’t overload and definitely ditch the tomatoes – that’s where soggy sandwiches start.
Start with thick slices of ham and fresh bread. Finely slice iceberg lettuce for a crisp texture and dress in lemon juice
Add sliced pickles for sweet and sour balance. Smear one slice of bread with a thick layer of mayonnaise and the other with a tight squiggle of Al Brown’s Old Yella Habanero Mustard – its hint of heat takes a ham sandwich to a very happy place.
Ham steaks are an underrated summer barbecue choice. Take extra thick slices off the bone then sear them on the grill. Cook equally thick slices of fresh pineapple on the barbecue. Dress them in salsa verde for a fresh summer finish.
Ham provides a perfect umami upgrade to a cheese toastie. Thin slices of ham add a delicious savouriness to the rich cheese – make sure you use at least three types: I like Kāpiti gruyere for a nice silk melt, some cheddar for some sharpness and pecorino for saltiness. And every good toasted sammy needs some sweetness, and diced pineapple is a great match to the ham.
A secret tip: spread mayonnaise on the outside of the bread instead of butter for an extra decadent toastie.
This Korean rice roll wrapped in seaweed looks very similar to our New Zealand understanding of Japanese sushi. But it differs in an important way – the rice is seasoned with sesame oil instead of vinegar. Set chunks of ham at the centre of the roll with sticks of cucumber and kimchi, wrap in dried seaweed sheets and you’ve got a delicious Christmas ham Korean picnic.
Once the ham bone is getting especially low and slices aren’t possible, hack pieces wherever you can find them into a wok for fried rice. This is especially effective if you’ve used a miso or gochujang glaze on the ham.
Pea and ham risotto
I traditionally think of risotto as a warm wintry dish, but it’s really easy to make this dish super summery with fresh herbs. Blitz some peas in a food processor with mint and lemon juice and it will add a beautiful bright green colour to the rice. Finish it with a big handful of chopped fresh mint.
Ham and egg pie
Another perfect accompaniment to the cricket – especially if you’re lucky enough to be in Melbourne and going to the MCG – is a ham and egg pie. Just replace the bacon in this recipe for a Cricket World Cup final pie with strips of leftover ham. And remember, no peas or carrots!
Pork bone broth
One you’ve trimmed off everything you can, put the leftover ham bone in the freezer. Then get it out in May when the summer weather is gone and the soul needs warming to make the base for a hearty soup. My favourite pork broth is rich tonkotsu ramen.
Remember, giving leftover ham bones to dogs isn’t a great idea – cooked bones tend to be more brittle and splinter and can wreak havoc for their teeth, gums and also the digestive system if they swallow them.
How to look after your ham
One of the most common questions Freedom Farms gets is, “How long can I keep the ham after Christmas Day?” There is no straightforward answer to this. But to get the best out of your ham, keep it wrapped in a pillowcase or in a clean tea towel in the fridge. Don’t wrap it in plastic because it will get sweaty and gross.
When you are taking it out of the fridge for leftovers, take it out, carve off what you need, and put it straight back in the fridge – please don’t leave it sitting out on the bench for ages as this is where things start to go wrong. Keeping it on the bottom shelf, above the vege cooler, is also a good idea, as that has the most stable temperature of the fridge.
This content was created in paid partnership with Freedom Farms. Learn more about our partnerships here.
The Spinoff’s food content is brought to you by Freedom Farms. They believe talking about food is nearly as much fun as eating it, and they’re excited to facilitate some good conversations around food provenance in Aotearoa New Zealand.
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