“You know the definition of eternity? Two people and a ham.” No Easter passed in my house without my mother repeatedly stating this adage. While we all rolled our eyes at the familiar saying, there was some truth in it.
Ham is often purchased in wholes or halves. A whole ham, which includes the butt end, as well as the shank, often weighs 18 to 20 pounds and, while delicious, is salty and smoky enough that many diners will only take a small amount, leaving the cook with a good deal of leftovers.
In my own family, those leftovers have never been looked at as a burden. In fact, it’s the opposite. Ham has endless possibilities.
Consider these options: ham salad (finely chop the ham and mix it with mayo, a dab of mustard and a few chopped pickles), ham and cheese sandwiches, chef’s salad, omelets, ham and scalloped potatoes and my personal favorite, Ham and Sweet Potato Hash are all bound to make an appearance on my post-holiday dinner table.
For the hash, I like to utilize my sheet pan and roast cubes of ham, sweet potatoes, Yukon Gold potatoes and red onion in a hot oven, stirring occasionally to ensure even cooking, until they are golden brown.
While you could make a few wells in the hash mixture to crack some eggs into toward the end of the cooking process, I find getting a runny yolk (a must for me) by baking them directly on the sheet-pan is too hit and miss. To avoid hard-cooked eggs, I choose to poach mine, which gives me a little more control over their doneness.
The result is a slightly salty, slightly sweet, perfectly balanced hash that works just as well for dinner as it does for brunch.
Of course, if your will to survive on ham alone begins to wane after a few days, the obvious solution is to freeze any excess. Cooked ham will last three to four days in the refrigerator, and about two months in the freezer. If you decide to freeze it, make sure to divide your leftovers into amounts you think your family will use in a single meal. Ham stands up fairly well to freezing, but thawing it out, only to have to refreeze a second or third round of leftovers, will certainly take its toll on taste and texture.
If your ham came on the bone, make sure to save that bone in the freezer for the next time you make bean or pea soup.
Meredith Deeds is a cookbook author and food writer from Edina. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Instagram at @meredithdeeds.