The Bargain Ham Incident

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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

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Cuban Sandwich, Meet Eggroll

Baked Cubano Eggroll

Well, I hope everyone had a super fantastic holiday.  With New Years right around the bend, I decided to make a fun snack for all of you to try.  I know, I spoil you so.

So, I love a good Cuban sandwich, sometimes called a Cubano, piled high with shredded pork, ham, Swiss cheese and pickles.  I love it so much, I wrapped it in an eggroll blanket, got it all nice and toasty and ate the hell out of it.  That’s love.

Without further ado, I present you with the Baked Cubano Eggroll:

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The Endless Road Trip: Porklandia

Portland, Oregon may seem like the type of hippie-dippie place that knows its silken tofus from its seitan (and it is). But as I recently discovered, these hipsters also know their swine, from head to tail. Oregon is a serious pork-producing state, and Portland chefs get crazy/creative with pig parts of every variety. I ate my way through Porklandia so that you don’t have to.

At Tasty n Sons, nearly every dish, from salads to kimchi to chicken, comes with an egg on top (as god intended). It climaxes with this perfectly golden-brown, intensely crispy fried pork cutlet, served over spinach, with a soft fried egg for a crown.

The Woodsman Tavern is the first place I have ever been served a ham plate and then told the proper order in which to eat the hams, as if this was a fancy wine tasting—from most delicate to heartiest. Each one was prosciutto-thin, but with the full salty taste of a good ol’ Virginia-style baked ham.

Don’t forget the ears! At Whiskey Soda Lounge, a casual spot from acclaimed Pok Pok chef Andy Ricker, they’re stewed in 5-spice and deep-fried until crisp, served with a black vinegar dipping sauce. They’re crusty on the edges and chewy in the middle, with the texture of…well, ear.

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Shouldn’t Work But Does: Hawaiian Pizza Sliders

I’ve been thinking about Hawaiian pizza lately.  How weird is it that pineapple, ham, cheese and tomato sauce would get together and make it work?  It works, though.

So, I cracked my knuckles and did some research on Hawaiian pizza.  Ok, I just went to Wikipedia—whatever.  So apparently it is not a Hawaiian invention and it is the most popular pizza of choice in Australia.  Huh.  Who knew?

I know one thing.  This flavor combo goes beyond pizza.  I have made a Hawaiian pizza grilled cheese that was the bomb-diggity, so I figured it would also be an awesome burger.

It is.

Hawaiian Pizza Chicken Sliders

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My Breakfast is Better Than Yours: The Croque-Madame

What did you have for breakfast when you woke up this weekend? Unless it was a croque-madame (which I didn’t even know about until this weekend), you lose. What you’re looking at is the female version of a croque-monsieur, which is a glorified ham and cheese sandwich with bread soaked in a tasty sauce. I’ll let you figure out why this one’s considered the female version.

Anyway, I was lucky enough for my girlfriend to have seen it made on The Chew, which inspired her to make it for breakfast. It peaked my interest right away — pretty much just because Michael Symon is on The Chew and I’d love to hang out with him and have a beer. But other than that, this concoction has everything a breakfast should be.

Think of what you’d order at the diner. If you have any wits to you, you’re going to order eggs, some delicious meat (bacon or ham), toast, and homefries. But let’s be honest, most of us just use the homefries as filler, to soak up the “dippy egg” or sunny-side up egg. This breakfast has it all and more. Not only does it have a delicious, savory meat, but it also includes melted cheese in between a tasty baked bread with crispy toast.

Further, the toast has been soaked in a cream (bechamel sauce) made of milk and nutmeg, giving the whole meal a bit of a sweet undertone. Finally, thanks to the females out there, the fried or poached egg crowns the sandwich. To eat it the right way, break the yoke first, and then cut into the rest of it. Get a little bit of everything in every bite and there’s no need for those homefries.

The Croque-Madame

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America’s Best New Sandwiches — 2012

You want sandwiches? We got sandwiches. Last year, Endless Simmer’s post on America’s Top 10 New Sandwiches was our most-read story of 2011, and even helped turn The New Luther into a bit of a sell-out phenomenon. But America’s sandwich artisans haven’t stopped innovating, and we haven’t stopped salivating. So here we go, for your drooling-at-work pleasure, this year’s list of America’s top 10 craziest, loveliest, cheesiest, most creative new sandwiches.

10. The Noble Pig —  Noble Pig Sandwiches, Austin

Texas may be best known for its beef, but perhaps not for long, if chefs John Bates and Brandon Martinez have anything to say about it. Their year-and-a-half-old Noble Pig serves up a namesake sandwich that somehow combines everything that is beautiful about pork products on one truly outstanding sandwich. Tender pulled pork, spicy slivers of ham, and crispy bits of bacon are all mixed together, topped with provolone cheese, and served on toasted, house-baked bread, for a porky trifecta that hits all of the spots. (Photo: Marshall Wright)

9. Pane et Panelle — Bar Stuzzichini, New York

Chickpeas may get typecast as functioning only in falafel form, but it turns out balls aren’t all they can do. Panelle is actually an old Sicilian street food snack—chickpeas and flour formed into light, airy strips and fried in olive oil. Stuzzichini‘s sandwich revives that classic and perfects it, layering crispy strips of panelle on a sesame-studded bun, in between levels of soft ricotta and caciocavallo cheeses. The result is a light-but-addictive sandwich that will make you curse every overly dense falafel wrap that has crossed your lips.

8. Chicharrones Banh Mi — Ink Sack, Los Angeles

There are a million banh mis in American nowadays, but we were most swept away by this version from Top Chef champ Michael Voltaggio. At his new Ink Sack sandwich shop, tender slices of pork belly and pork butt are topped with pickled vegetables, plus the kicker — crispy chicharróne fried pork rinds, creating one incredible multi-culti pork bomb.

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