The Bargain Ham Incident
So it’s the second day after Christmas and I’m in my local grocery store when what do I see? All of the leftover hams that weight ten pounds or more are marked down to 99 cents a pound! Am I interested? Heck to the yeah! I grab two and make a mad dash for the checkout counter and before you know it I’m stuffing my bundles of pig joy into the freezer next to my emergency vodka. Sweet!
Fast forward to yesterday, when I’m wondering what to do for dinner and I suddenly remember my major swine score. So I thaw out contestant number one and pop it in the oven next to some scallop potatoes that I threw together. About 40 minutes later–voila! I sit down to enjoy my dirt-cheap ham dinner feast. It was so good I couldn’t wait to fire up a ham-steak-and-egg breakfast this morning. Then a few hours later I treated myself to a lunch consisting of a cold ham sandwich with mustard and Swiss cheese. Now I’m getting ready to make my dinner when what do I see staring back at me from inside my fridge? That goddamn ham! About eight and a half pounds worth. What was I thinking? Deal schmeal! This feels more like a sentence—and there’s no time off for good behavior. I’m now deep into day two of all things ham and it’s déjà vu all over again.
But wait a minute–maybe I’m approaching this wrong. Maybe if I didn’t think of it as ham I wouldn’t have a problem choking down another plate of it. What if it wasn’t ham, but it was its upscale Italian cousin pancetta? Now we’re talkin’! If I think of it as pancetta, then I could make this:
Katt’s NOT Pancetta and Angel Hair Pasta Dish
(Sexy name, huh?)
2 cups of cubed ham
1 medium onion, chopped
4 gloves of garlic, minced
2 cups of grape tomatoes, halved
¼ cup of balsamic vinegar
4 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 pound of angel hair pasta
Salt and pepper to taste
The trick here is to caramelize the ham with the onions and garlic. First pour a couple of tablespoons worth of extra virgin olive oil into a large frying pan and fire it up under a medium high heat. Sauté the onions until they begin to soften and then add the ham, thyme and garlic. Let this caramelize while you get your pasta pot fired up. It usually takes me 15 minutes to get my pasta ready, which is just about how long it takes to finish the ham and sauce. If you time it just right you can pull the pasta right out of the pot into the pan on top of the sauce which will save you from having to drain it.
Once the ham gets good and browned, toss in the halved grape tomatoes and give them a good stir. Then, stir in the balsamic vinegar and turn the heat down to low. Once the pasta is ready just transfer it right into the pan, add the cheese, stir and plate! If you have to wait a little for the pasta and the sauce cooks down, just add more olive oil to the dish after you add the pasta.
This makes 4 servings which means I get to look forward to eating this another 3 times along with the remaining eight and a quarter pounds of ham. Some bargain! I think its time to find out just how many times a ham can be re-frozen. Wish me luck.