Ask Casey: What Am I Gonna Do With This Leftover Ham?

Casey Barber

by Casey Barber on April 1, 2013

Ask Casey: Cooking and Kitchen Questions Answered

Do you have any good ideas for using up the rest of my Easter ham?

Seriously. As someone who held a ham in her freezer for an entire year, terrified by the prospect of finding a way to eat it all/pawn it off on friends, I’ve been in your shoes. And my eventual solution for that particular ham—offer it up as an entrée at a friend’s annual holiday party—isn’t something that works for everyone, especially since said ham was likely the main event at your Easter holiday feast one day ago.

And though there is in fact a whole cookbook (Ham: An Obsession with the Hindquarter) devoted to the succulent rear flanks of the pig, I’ll give you a few suggestions to tide you over before you run to the bookstore.

roasted ham
If yours is a bone-in ham, the smart thing to do with that Flintstones-esque knob is to make soup. Amber at Bluebonnets & Brownies gilds the lily by adding bacon to her ham and bean soup, and Shaina at Food for My Family does a ham, potato, and beer cheese soup that can easily be adapted to get rid of any extra mashed potatoes you’ve got hanging around.

But say you live with a man who hates soup (ahem) or you can’t be bothered to simmer one more thing after expending all your energy on the Easter feast. Below are two quick ways to whittle down the ham that’s hunkering down in your fridge without touching a burner or turning on an oven. One, a minty fig-and-date tapenade inspired by a Jacques Pépin recipe in Food & Wine, dials down on the typical briny notes of the Provençal olive spread and amps up the sweetness to contrast with ham’s natural saltiness.

fig, olive, date, mint tapenade
And then there’s ham salad, one of those cold, mayo-bound sandwich fillers that contain little to no vegetable matter (let alone a piece of lettuce). Hey, what else are you going to do with the ends of your chipped chopped ham but throw together a nice ham salad for the deli case? Some versions add hard-boiled eggs to the mixture, which is a clever way to double up on dealing with leftovers, but I’m a purist when it comes to my ham salad and gotta do things the western PA way—more specifically, the DeLallo’s way with only ham, mayo, sweet pickles, and pimientos, ground finely to a spread instead of the chunkiness you’d expect from chicken or egg salad. (Thanks to Aaron Leffler for sleuthing out the current ham salad situation at DeLallo’s, since it’s been years since I sampled the real thing.)

ham salad
Both of these recipes, incidentally, would make excellent picnic fare should you find yourself hiking in Arches National Park near Ham Rock (my favorite rock formation in the park, for obvious reasons). Maybe next Easter you can forego the family feast entirely for a more al fresco experience?

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