Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Creamy Ham & Potato Casserole

Creamy Ham & Potato Casserole
Dorcas Annette Walker

Easter Sunday this year was sunny and cold. The normally nice spring weekend quickly turned into what felt like winter with snow flurries driven by freezing winds. Not only were my blooming flowers killed off due to the plunging temperatures, but also the newly-formed tree leaves were nipped. Inside my woodstove kept our house warm and cozy as we celebrated Easter with our family. I baked the traditional ham for our Easter dinner. As usual I had plenty of leftovers. After sending food home with Granny my refrigerator was still packed. Ham, like turkey, often seems to multiply once the holiday is over and eating sandwiches with leftover meat soon becomes old. Thankfully a couple of years ago I discovered a recipe that uses leftover ham, which has become a favorite casserole at our house.

The meat that is traditionally associated with Easter is ham. In many cultures the pig is a symbol of prosperity. Today there are many sizes and brands of pre-cooked hams to choose from. In former years meat had to be raised, butchered, and then cured in smoke houses. My grandparents, who were Mennonites, farmed and raised livestock and garden produce to sell at the farmer’s market each week so they butchered year round. Country hams take more preparation to prepare than the pre-cooked hams of today. Some believe that ham became the traditional meat around Easter due to the anticipation of the arrival of spring with emerging plants and wildlife to provide fresh food. Folk would celebrate the occasion by using up the remaining cured meats –usually a ham- left in the smokehouse.

My Creamy Ham & Potato Casserole is good not only at Easter time, but year round. Whenever I have leftover ham I find myself making this filling casserole in the next couple of days. Ham leftovers can also be frozen to be used later in a casserole if one doesn’t want to eat ham again right away. The Creamy Ham & Potato Casserole is easy to make and can be done up ahead of time, stored in the refrigerator, and popped into the oven for supper. This Creamy Ham & Potato Casserole recipe takes about an hour to prepare (including baking time) and serves around eight.

Creamy Ham & Potato Casserole

Peel & dice 6 medium-sized potatoes.
Add 1 tsp salt.
Cook in water until soft.

In another saucepan mix together with a Wisk:
3 c milk
½ c flour
½ stick of butter
Stir continually until the white gravy is thickened.

Drain potatoes and pour into a buttered casserole dish.
½ lb leftover ham- cubed
1 tb chopped onion
1 c mozzarella shredded cheese
Mix together and pour the white gravy over the mixed ingredients. Sprinkle paprika on top. Bake at 350ยบ for one half hour until the casserole is bubbly and browned on top. Serve hot with a vegetable or salad!

Dorcas Annette Walker is a freelance writer, author, columnist, and photographer from Jamestown, TN. If you have any cooking tips or favorite recipes you are welcome to contact me by email at: dorcaswalker@yahoo.com. For more information about the Walker family and Dorcas’ books check out her website at: www.dorcasannettewalker.com or htpp://dorcasannettewalker.blogspot.com for other Creative Mountain Cookin recipes.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Had to let you know this was great!Had the Easter craving for my grandmas same dish but could not get a hold of family or find my copy of her recipe. Your was a great substitute and can't wait to try some of your other items.
Thanks for making my Easter filled with great memories.