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calendar   Friday - August 09, 2013

Easter Ham Stew In August

Mmm, yumm.

Back just before Easter we got a free ham from the grocery store. Since we spent the holiday at the relative’s homes, we put that great lump of meat in the freezer. And mostly forgot about it. I finally got around to thawing it out last week, and we’ve been eating ham every since. Just about every day, every meal. A 12lb ham goes a long, long way when there’s just two people eating on it, and one of them tends to eat more like a bird.

I was starting to get sick of it. I was even having ham for breakfast - toast an Everything bagel while frying a bit of ham on the stove. Brown it a bit then dice it. Butter and cream cheese on the bagel, then pack on as much diced ham as will stick. Makes a really solid breakfast.

So I finally got down to the joint, and being naturally thrifty, decided to make split pea soup. I’d never pass muster in Fwance, but the loggers up in Canada would love me. I can’t make soup. I can make stew. I can make stew so thick you need a double bladed axe to cut yourself a bowlful. And somehow that’s what happened.  And I’m not complaining, not one little bit. But I wish I had another bagel on the side to go with it. So I don’t go hungry, you know.

1lb dried split peas
2 cloves garlic, peeled
4 stalks of celery, diced
3 medium carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
2 large yellow onions, roughly chopped
3 quarts low-sodium chicken broth
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tbl dried oregeno
1/2 tbl dried thyme
1 tbl Penzey’s “bouquet garni” because I couldn’t find a bay leaf
1 10” ham bone joint with lots of fat and meat bits still attached
1 hand-sized (5x3-ish) piece of smoked pork skin, well browned from roasting, with 1/4” layer of fat still attached

In a pot big enough to boil lobsters in, combine all the above ingredients. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a gentle simmer. Cover, and let simmer for 2 hours. Check things every 5 minutes and give them a stir.

After about 2 hours, fish out the skin and the joint. Throw away the skin, and use a small knife to remove a surprisingly large amount of meat from the bone. Dig the marrow out of the bone ends, finely chop the meat and toss it back in the pot. Throw away the bone.

Decide things look a little bit thin, so throw in another ...

3 more stalks of celery, diced
a bit more ground pepper
1/2 lb red lentils
1 lb leftover ham found in the fridge in one of those plastic tubs women love, diced finely

And let it stew for another hour and 15 minutes, uncovered. Stir every few minutes. Do your best to keep things from burning on the bottom of the pot, but if they do *ahem*, then transfer everything to another pot. Don’t scrape the burned bits back into the stew; throw them away.
When the bits of carrot are mush, the green peas and celery have totally disintegrated, and the lentils are nice and soft, it’s done. Somewhere in there are the two garlic cloves, which will be a nice surprise for someone at some point.

Run out of patience, and take the pot off the heat. Ladle yourself out a bowlful to try it, and be amazed at how heavy it is. Eat.

Pure heaven. And I didn’t add even a single shake of salt. It wasn’t needed, and we had already soaked the ham for a couple days in water before we started eating it. My guess is that this 3 quarts of soup has nearly 3lb of ham in it. Yup; I can’t make soup at all. But I sure make a good pot of stew.

And I won’t make another ham until Christmas, at the earliest. Sweet.


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 08/09/2013 at 12:10 PM   
Filed Under: • Fine-Dining •  
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