Rep Note:
Easter Ham
29 April 2019

¶ Didn’t someone once quip that a good definition of eternity is “a young married couple and a ham”? The fact that ham does not freeze well stretches out the ordeal. I was wondering what I was going to do with the leftovers of the half-ham that four of us enjoyed at Easter. 

Looking for general inspiration for dinner, with no thought at all of ham, I opened Judith Jones’s little book, The Pleasures of Cooking for One, and there, right in front of me, was a suggestion for cooking a slice of ham. It did not involve a sauté, but rather called for baking the meat in milk, after smearing mustard on it and tossing in sage leaves and sprinkling on brown sugar. 

I’m looking forward to trying it again, and, when I do, I am going to read this entry, so that I don’t make the same mistakes.

First of all, hacking away at my ham was not easy, or easy enough, so my slice — which was really three pieces, corresponding to the pig’s muscles, that were no longer held together by fat after the Easter baking — was too thin. Well, it was just right, really, but I ought to have cut back the oven time, at least by half. And I oughtn’t to have turned off the oven and let the dish sit in the cooling oven while I waited for Kathleen to get home. It would have been better to pop the dish into a preheated oven the moment she arrived. Twenty-five minutes later (Jones calls for an hour, and I obeyed), it would have been perfect. And the milk would have been somewhat liquid, instead of a black paste. Come to think of it, it would have been nice to soak the ham in some liquid capable of drawing out some of the salt; I don’t know if there is such a thing. But for all its shortcomings, my bit of ham was very tasty, and Kathleen liked it, too.

The riced sweet potatoes that I served alongside it were perfect. I had had the idea of putting the ricer over an aluminum bowl, which I could pop into the oven with a knob of butter (the potatoes go cold very fast). Hitherto, I have riced the potatoes into the bottom of the double boiler in which I steam the potatoes. The bowl was much easier to work with — and to clean, certainly. 

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