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I was recently gifted with a coworker’s leftover farm-smoked ham. It was an enormous amount of meat, and since Aaron’s not big on pig, I knew I’d end up eating most of it myself. One can only eat so many ham sandwiches, so I put it in freezer baggies in roughly 1-cup portions, and went online in search of recipes to use it in. My mission was to come up with as many recipes as possible, without buying a lot of extra ingredients. So I chose recipes I could easily alter and substitute, and recipes that shared some ingredients, so if I had to buy them, I could get more bang for the buck. Last weekend, I started with the first two. Cabbage Soup and Brussels Sprout Bake.

I had Brussels sprouts in my freezer, chicken broth in the fridge, some onions & carrots in the crisper, so all I had to buy was celery, cabbage, mushrooms, green onions and shredded cheese. That’s a pretty good deal, since I can probably get at least 4 meals out of each recipe, and fresh veggies like those are super cheap. I can also make a pretty good salad out of the leftover veggies – Bonus!

Neither recipe was difficult, and didn’t require too many dishes or too much mess. I will warn you, cabbage and Brussels sprouts are both strong-smelling veggies, add the ham, and you will probably need to burn some candles to clear your kitchen when you’re done. But the results were well worth it.

The Brussels sprout bake tastes very classy. The lemon juice really adds a kick and mingles nicely with the garlic. The original recipe had sauerkraut in it… completely unnecessary. It reheats nicely, and I’ve been adding some shredded cheese to it when I reheat it. It works well as a main dish, but could also be a nice side dish.

The cabbage soup was surprising. I thought it might taste like the cabbage my grandma used to make with pork grease – EWWWW. No resemblance whatsoever. The cabbage and celery lost all their “bite” and the whole soup has a sweetness to it that I didn’t expect. It’s also not as watery as I had feared; it’s a hearty soup that really does fill me up. I have to say that it tasted better after it had been in the fridge a few days than it did the night I made it. No additional spices are necessary, which also surprised me. With home-made soups, I usually find myself rummaging around in my spice cabinet to make them less boring. But this is really flavorful all on its own.

Here are the recipes, as I altered them. Keep in mind I was substituting as I went, so measurements are not precise. Use your best judgment and taste-test often. Next on the list are two casseroles, a ham chowder, and a quiche.

Cabbage Soup

* 1 cup chicken broth
* 1 stalk celery, chopped
* 6 baby carrots, chopped
* 1/4 onion, chopped
* 1 cloves garlic, minced
* 1/2 medium head cabbage, chopped
* 1 cups diced ham
* 1/2 tablespoon dried parsley
* salt to taste

DIRECTIONS

1. Place the chicken broth, celery, carrots, onion, garlic, cabbage, ham and parsley in a large pot over high heat, add enough water to cover the vegetables. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 1/2 hours.

Ham and Brussels Sprout Bake

* 20 Brussels sprouts (fresh or frozen)
* 1 cup cubed ham
* 1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
* 2 finely chopped green onions
* 1/2 cup Italian blend shredded cheese
* olive oil
* 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
* 1 clove garlic, minced
* 2 teaspoons dried basil
* ground black pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2. Sauté mushrooms and garlic in olive oil.
2. Toss together the Brussels sprouts, ham, mushrooms, green onion, garlic, and ¼ cup cheese in a large bowl until combined. Add the lemon juice, garlic, basil, and pepper; toss until coated. Pour this mixture into a 2 quart baking dish and sprinkle with the rest of the cheese.
3. Bake in preheated oven until the Brussels sprouts are tender, about 45 minutes.

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