April 11, 2012

Easter Ham Redux

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Margaret's Morsels | Ham and Potato Casserole

I heard a disc jockey describe the day after Easter as egg salad Monday. If you've got leftover Easter ham, today doesn't have to be ham sandwich Wednesday.

I always cook a ham for Easter and freeze what isn't eaten, keeping out just enough to make a broccoli ham ring.  This year, I'm using some of the leftover ham to make a ham and potato casserole.

Three family members shared this recipe with me, but each one had their own version.  Since the process and ingredients are similar to scalloped potatoes, I used that recipe as a guide to create my own version of this layered casserole.  One layer consists of three ingredients:  potatoes, ham and cheese.

Margaret's Morsels | Ham and Potato Casserole
The first layer

You can use any form of cooked ham including canned, thinly sliced deli ham or even packaged luncheon ham.  You can also make as little or as much as you want by increasing or decreasing the ingredients.  I use a 2-quart dish to make a three layer casserole.  A couple of family members use a large roasting pan and bake several layers.

All three recipes started out the same.  Grease a baking dish and alternate layers of thinly sliced potatoes, diced ham and shredded cheese, sprinkling each layer with a little salt and pepper.  When you've got all the layers you want, pour a mixture of eggs, milk and flour over the top.  This mixture binds the ingredients together.  It's also where the recipes differed.

Margaret's Morsels | Ham and Potato Casserole
The eggs, half and half, milk and flour

The recipes called for four, six and even 12 eggs!  Of course, the number you need depends on what size casserole you're making.  A good rule of thumb is to use one egg for each layer.  Since I had three layers, I used three eggs.

One recipe called for milk, another used half and half and the last used a combination of the two.  We only drink 1% milk so I knew half and half would be too rich.  However, half and half would make the casserole creamier than milk.  I ended up using equal parts milk and half and half.

The recipes differed again when it came to flour.  Two versions used it while the third did not.  I added two tablespoons of flour since it helps thicken the casserole. 

Margaret's Morsels | Ham and Potato Casserole
The egg mixture poured on three layers

The casserole took 1 hour 15 minutes to bake, but the total baking time depends on two things:  the number of layers and the thickness of the potatoes.  If the top gets too brown before the potatoes are done, cover the pan with foil.  If you're baking a lot of layers, cover the pan with foil, removing it the last 30 minutes to brown the top.

I bet the casserole would be delicious substituting cooked bacon for the ham.  The next time I make it, I'm going to perform the experiment.  In the meantime, I've got leftover ham I need to use and I don't want ham sandwiches.

Ham and Potato Casserole
4 to 6 Servings

3 large potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
ham, cooked and diced
1 (8 oz.) pkg. Cheddar cheese, grated
salt and pepper to taste
3 eggs
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup half and half
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

In a greased 2-quart casserole dish, alternate layers of potatoes, ham and cheese three times.  Sprinkle salt and pepper over the cheese.  Combine the remaining ingredients and pour over the top.  Bake at 350° for 1 hour 15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.  If the top gets too brown, cover the pan with foil.

© Margaret's Morsels

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