Tuesday, April 25, 2017

"American Heirloom Pork Cook Book From Checkerboard Kitchens" - Easy Ham and Potatoes in Foil - Easter 2017

Date I made this recipe – April 16, 2017 – Easter

American Heirloom Pork Cook Book From Checkerboard Kitchens by Gertrude Kable, Manger Checkerboard Kitchens, Consumer Services
Published by McGraw-Hill Book Company
© 1971
Purchased at Arc's Value Village Thrift Stores, White Bear Ave, St. Paul
Recipe:  Easy Ham and Potatoes in Foil – p. 72

I have to tell you that recipes for Passover and then for Easter (and Thanksgiving and Christmas) often give me pause because every single cut of meat anticipates consumption by at least 22 people, give or take a few.

We are a household of two.  T.W.O.  Two people cannot possibly consume all that meat and don't even bother suggesting that we freeze it because we tend to forget it is there and then one year later, we are removing ice-encrusted packets (contents unknown and undiscoverable) from the freezer and I hate that.

And so usually, dear reader, I often look for alternatives to a whole ham such as ham loaves or scrambled eggs and ham or – one year – lasagna which I made just to be subversive.

This year though, I thought that I might like to make a ham recipe and had in mind scalloped potatoes and ham which I love, and then ta-da, this recipe appeared and all was well with the world.  Well, all was well except I had to find a small-sized piece of ham. 

If you read my last blog about my Passover brisket, then you'll know of the challenge of finding a small cut of meat and the ham search took the same route, which is to say that most grocery stores featured hams the size of boulders and that was too much.  Even the "smaller" cuts of ham were too big for two people and sheesh, I was not in the mood to pay $22.00 for those cuts either.  (In case you didn't know, the price of pork has been inching up over the years.)

Thankfully, a hot tip from the woman sampling ham at a local grocery store led me to a different section of the meat department where I discovered ham slices.  Said slices were the same ham as was being sampled but were only a couple of pounds instead of mega pounds and the price was very reasonable so...sold! 

And with that, my Easter/Passover menu was complete:  Tuna Noodle Casserole for Good Friday, Beef Brisket for Passover on Saturday, and these ham packets for Easter Sunday.  I was so chuffed with myself!

Now I cannot say I ever associated Ralston Purina Company, owners of "Checkerboard Kitchens," with anything but dog food but here I am, proven wrong by a cookbook that is most decidedly NOT filled with dog food recipes.  As an aside, when I graduated from college (with an English degree), I really wanted to work in food marketing and so applied to everybody and anybody including Ralston Purina.  So it's dog food, big deal?  As you might imagine, I was denied by every single company to which I applied, go figure.  Believe it or not, it wasn't necessarily because I didn't have a marketing degree, but rather because I didn't have much business experience and as an English major, I wouldn't would I?  Oh well, that was then, this is now. 

At any rate, Ralston Purina is still in the dog food business but they deal also in animal feed products which I suppose is the tie-in to our pork cookbook and that is fine by me.

I think you'll be happy with the wide variety of pork recipes in this book as they cover a decent range of incredible edibles in these categories:

  • Fresh Pork Roasts (complete with diagrams – nice!)
  • Chops and Steaks
  • Ribs and Back Bones
  • Foreign Recipes (Chinese; Spanish; French; Mexican; Irish; Latvian (was not expecting that); Hungarian; Hawaiian; Danish; Phillipine; English)
  • Barbecuing
  • Variety Meats (Ugh:  Liver; Feet; Hocks; Knuckles; Cutlets)
  • Smoked Pork
  • Bacon
  • Sausage

Hopefully, one of these categories, and recipes within these categories will float your boat and your selection is once again vast, ranging from "Crown Roast of Pork," to "Sausage Potato Soup," to "Colorful Coleslaw with Tangy Bacon Dressing," to Bacon Chop Suey (hmm...interesting, that one)to your basic Ham-Yam Casserole.  Several other recipes looked really good but just like with the brisket, I was on ham and potato lock and load.

This recipe will take you all of two seconds to put together and it only bakes for 30 minutes.  What I loved about it was that you get your potatoes, ham, and cheese all in one packet and so it sure beats dirtying up several baking dishes.

For those of you who like mustard with your ham, go ahead and splash a little on top.  My preferred mustard is Gulden's which brings a tiny amount of spice to the dish.


Easy Ham and Potatoes in Foil – Yield:  4 servings
4 medium baking potatoes
2 cups cubed cooked ham
3 tablespoons butter or margarine
Salt and pepper
½ cup chopped parsley
½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
½ cup light cream (Ann's Note:  light cream's fat content is slightly higher than whole milk, and slightly lower than heavy cream.  Since I had heavy cream on hand, I used it but just added some water to it to lighten it up.  I have no idea if that is the correct way to lighten up cream but that's all I could think of.  Did it matter?  No!  The recipe was delicious.)

Pare potatoes and cut lengthwise in strips as for French fries.  Place potatoes and ham in the center of a large piece of heavy aluminum foil.  Shape foil to form baking dish.  Dot potatoes with butter.  Sprinkle with salt, pepper, ¼ cup parsley and cheese.  Pour cream over.  Bring edges of foil up to cover potatoes.  Seal all edges to make a tightly closed package but don't press.  Place on cookie sheet or shallow pan.  Bake in a 425F oven for 40 to 50 minutes until potatoes are tender.  Sprinkle with extra parsley just before serving.  Note:  French fries can be used in this recipe.

Ann's Notes:  Just for fun, I cut the ham in long strips, same as I did with the potatoes.  I cooked my packets for 60 minutes to be sure the potatoes were done and I turned the packets on the baking sheets halfway through cooking to ensure they were cooked evenly.  These were damned nummy packets and so I was glad to have leftovers!

No comments: