Ham and Potato Soup

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For all of you who celebrate Easter with a massive ham and therefore, invariably have leftovers – here’s a recipe for you! This soup is flavorful, and stuffed full of ham. No guilt about wasting leftovers! On a related note, save or steal the ham bone! We’ll use that too. It’s not necessary to the recipe, but man does it make it better! The depth of flavor you get out of that ham bone is amazing.

I also got to wondering… how did ham become a traditional Easter food? The Jews-turned-Christians of ancient times certainly weren’t serving up pork on their dinner tables. Seems counter-intuitive that the descendants of religious Jews would go for one of the most forbidden foods in Judaism. As best I can tell, Easter ham is a relatively recent, American Christian tradition. Why? Apparently, back in the days before refrigeration, pigs were traditionally slaughtered in the fall and stored salted through the winter. This ham was edible around Easter-time, when other spring-slaughtered animals weren’t ready. Pretty practical and boring as traditions go…

Now if you’re observant or actually reading this the day I published it, you’ll notice that Easter isn’t exactly over¬†yet. That’s because we were unable to go home for Easter with my family as usual and instead staffed the hospital. But we did buy a massive ham this week. It was only $1/lb! That’s basically free ūüíłūüíł And let me tell you, if our think you have leftovers, try eating a whole ham between two people! So far we’ve had two friends over for ham & swiss sandwiches, repeated those sandwiches another night, had eggs and ham for breakfast, made this soup, frozen ~1/3 of it, and still have a good other 1/3 or so in the fridge! We’ll be eating ham until Memorial Day! With this soup, I was going for creamy, but a little different than the usual heavy-cream-filled potato soup. I think it worked! ūüíĀ

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Ham & Potato Soup

Ingredients: 
  • 2 qt vegetable stock
  • Ham bone (if you have access to one)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Fresh rosemary
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 10oz leftover ham, chopped
  • 3 large yellow potatoes, peeled & cubed
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp brown mustard
  • 1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 10 turns fresh ground black pepper
Instructions: 
  1. If you have a ham bone, place it it a larger pot and cover with the 2 quarts of vegetable stock. Add the two bay leaves and a few sprigs of rosemary. Bring to a simmer and then turn heat down to low. [If you don’t have a ham bone, skip this step and just add the stock later as instructed.]
  2. Leave on the stove for an hour or as long as you have time for! The longer you leave it, the more flavor you’ll get out of the bone. If you have plenty of time and are getting tons of flavor out of your bone, you can top off with some water to keep it going.
  3. Allow the stock to cool. Skim off any fat and debris. You can also strain through cheesecloth if you like.
  4. In a large stockpot, heat your oil. Once hot, add shallots and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5-6 minutes.
  5. Once they have started browning and are fragrant, add the ham, potatoes, stock, mustard, Worcestershire, salt and pepper.
  6. Raise heat until the liquid comes to a boil. Then turn down to medium-low heat. Cook at this temperature for ~30 minutes, until the potatoes are soft.
  7. Remove roughly half of the potatoes to the side. Using an immersion blender (or pour into a food processor), blend together those potatoes and the milk.
  8. Return the milk/potatoes to the soup pot. Stir in to combine well. Leave at medium-low heat for another 10+ minutes.
  9. Serve with whatever toppings you’d like! (Cheese, chives, bacon, hot sauce, whatever!)

Scalloped Potatoes

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I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’ve never made scalloped potatoes before today. Maybe that’s not that weird for most, but growing up my mother made them at least a few a month, and they’re one of my favorite side dishes. I wish I had my mother’s recipe, but she didn’t include that one in the family recipe book. (Also, apparently I’m too lazy to call her…) So, in what is generally an aberration for me, the girl who loves following recipes, I sort of winged it. Therefore, if there is a “correct” way to make scalloped potatoes, this probably isn’t it.

The potatoes turned out just how I like them thought luckily! Creamy, with a little bit of sauce. Cheesy and flavorful! And an easy complement to most main courses. What more could you ask for?

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Scalloped Potatoes

Ingredients: 
  • 2 tbsp butter, divided
  • 1 medium onion, halved & sliced
  • 3/4 cup stock (chicken, turkey, vegetable)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • Black pepper
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp flour
  • 3 medium Russet potatoes, peeled & thinly sliced
  • 6oz Pecorino cheese, shredded
Instructions: 
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a medium-sized pan, melt 1 tbsp of butter over medium heat.
  3. Once the butter has melted, add the the onions. Stir to coat in the butter. Top with a few turns of fresh ground black pepper.
  4. Saute the onions over the medium heat, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Cook until they are just beginning to brown, roughly 15 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, combine milk, stock, paprika, salt, and remaining 1 tbsp of butter in a small saucepan. Bring to a very low simmer.
  6. Whisk the flour into the liquid mixture. Add the flour very slowly and whisk vigorously and continuously.
  7. Allow to simmer until the liquid has thickened slightly, and reduced by roughly half. This will take ~10 minutes.
  8. Butter the bottom an oven-safe dish. Then place half of the sliced potatoes in the dish. Top with all of the sauteed onions. Next, layer half of the cheese. Follow this with the remaining potatoes. Pour the liquid evenly over top of everything. Lastly, top of the dish with the remaining cheese.
  9. Cover tightly and place into the oven. After 45 minutes, remove the lid/foil. Bake uncovered for an additional 15-20 minutes.
Serves 4

Mom’s Roasted Potatoes

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I come from of huge family. My mother has seven siblings, and my father has five. As of last count, I have FORTY¬†first cousins, ranging from age 6 to 33. I haven’t the slightest clue how many extended relatives I have beyond that, but it’s a lot and I know many of them. But the best part of this ridiculously huge family (other than the fact that they’re family and I love them dearly), is that the vast majority of them are spectacular cooks. My grandmothers routinely presided over amazing¬†holiday meals (Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter) that fed 50 to 75 people. When I think of different family members or different holidays, my mind immediately goes to particular dishes…

Granddaddy’s River donuts. Muzzie’s dip, the most iconic of them all. Grandmommy’s meatloaf, natles, and gravy. Jackie’s vinegary shrimp appetizer. Ann’s crab & egg dip. Dip o’clock at the Riv. Mo arriving at Thanksgiving with the fried turkey (to join the two other roasted ones and the ham). Peanut butter balls, that I think originated with Bobbie. Black Friday leftovers at Granddaddy & Gigi’s. Granddad’s incredibly alcoholic eggnog. Beth’s cakes & desserts. Grandmom’s sandwiches and cookies on Christmas morning. Lori’s punch. Muzzie & Bobbie’s rolls. Pickin’ crabs at the Riv. Martha’s spaghetti & meatballs. Grandmom’s beach breakfast. Lee’s egg sandwiches. That one time Ginny made amazing green beans, and she was more shocked than anyone else that people loved them. Townley’s bean & pasta soup. Shrimp night at the beach. Gigi’s oyster crackers.¬†Ann and Lori’s crack saltines. Granddaddy’s cream chipped beef. My mother’s brownies. My mother’s chicken manicotti. My mother’s Oreo dessert. My mother’s meatballs & rice. My mother’s steak rolls. My mother’s kielbasa and potatoes. My mother’s cinnamon cookies. My mother’s poppyseed bread. My mother’s chex mix.

Wow. Once I started, I couldn’t stop. I’m going to just leave that there. Hopefully it’ll inspire me to make more of our family recipes that I love. Which was the point I was originally trying to make. I have this cookbook of family recipes that my grandmothers, aunts, and mother put together for all of the grandchildren a few years ago. I want to use it more! One of my personal life goals. The word vomit above shows that I have a lot of work to do!

So tonight, I knew I wanted to make potatoes to go with our steak and broccoli. But I decided to peruse the family cookbook for inspiration instead of the internet, which is my go-to. I came across my mother’s recipe for roasted potatoes. It isn’t an epic, nostalgic dish like the ones that popped into my head above. But seems like a perfect place to start. I adjusted it very minimally, so hopefully they come out as good as she makes them. Nothing ever tastes as good as when your mom makes it though…

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Mom’s Roasted Potatoes

Ingredients: 
  • 1 1/2 lb of peeled & cubed potatoes
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp truffle salt
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 10 turns of black pepper
Instructions: 
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Mix olive oil with the last four ingredients. Stir to combine well.
  3. Toss the potatoes with the oil mixture.
  4. Place on a foil-lined cookie sheet. Bake for 45 minutes on a middle rack.
  5. After 45 minutes, turn the oven up to broil. Leave the potatoes on the middle/lower rack. Cook another 2-5 minutes (while watching!) under the broiler, until the edges crisp up.
Serves 2 as a side dish. 

 

Hot Smashed Potatoes

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When I was in college, my younger sister found this ridiculous t-shirt with a cow and a pig dancing on the front that says, “I love carbs!” Which was made slightly less ridiculous, because I really, really do. I wore that shirt proudly ūüėČ I need to resurrect it to wear while whipping up these potatoes! I’ve seen recipes for smashed potatoes here and there and always thought they looked delicious. I mean, they’re basically a cross between a french fry and mashed potatoes. I think we can all objectively agree that those are two of the best foods in existence. Therefore, these potatoes must be the pinnacle of carb-y deliciousness.

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Turns out, they were. We devoured them in about 2 minutes. They were just as I’d hoped they’d be… The outside crisped up under the high heat in the oven, but the inside remained soft. They really are an amazing cross between fries and mashed potatoes! These are quite versatile… We had them as a side dish tonight with some fish and broccoli. But they’d be perfect as an appetizer. I can definitely see them as a sit-in-front-of-the-football-game-on-tv munchie. And let’s be for real… I’d definitely eat a bunch of them as a full meal.

We’re already planning on new versions¬†of this. Both Selim and I have several ideas each for new variations. I loved this version… the hot sauce isn’t enough that I’d qualify the dish¬†as “spicy,” but is enough to have a great flavor. We’ll definitely be smashing potatoes again soon!

Hot Smashed Potatoes

(Adapted from The Pioneer Woman )
Ingredients:
  • 10¬†petite potatoes
  • 4tbsp¬†butter
  • 1 tbsp¬†Frank’s Hot Sauce
  • 3¬†cloves of garlic, minced
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper
  • Cooking spray

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Instructions: 
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, add the potatoes and 1tbsp of salt to the pot. Reduce to a simmer and cook for ~20 minutes. You want the potatoes to be tender and mash-able, but not falling apart.
  2. Pre-heat your oven to 450 degrees. Spray a cookie sheet with a thin layer of cooking spray.
  3. Place your potatoes on the cookie sheet, leaving a fair amount of room between each potatoes. Using a potato masher, large serving fork, bottom of a jar/cup, or the palm of your hand (if you’re feeling tough & brave – they’re still pretty hot!), smash the potato flat. Don’t over-smash… you want them to stay in one piece.
  4. Melt your butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Whisk in the hot sauce, garlic, and 2 turns of fresh ground black pepper.
  5. Brush a healthy layer of this mixture over top of the potatoes. Place in the oven and bake for 10 minutes.
  6. Remove from the oven, flip the potatoes with a spatula, and re-brush the rest of the mixture over the other side of the potatoes. Return to the oven for an additional 10 minutes.
  7. Sprinkle with a little more Kosher as desired prior to serving.

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