Between Christmas night and the 1st of January it is totally acceptable not to prepare any proper dinners of an evening. It is entirely ok, in fact almost mandatory, that you eat leftovers. And as the leftovers run out, go off, or you just can’t stand the sight of them anymore, toasted sandwiches become the delicacy of the Christmas and New Year holiday period.
Ham 5 ways. Ham and salad, ham and eggs, ham toasties, ham on toast, ham with toast and eventually, just ham.
Dinner is a piece of ham cut straight off the bone as you stand at the kitchen bench. Then you wrap the leg up back in the soaked tea towel (or pull the pillowcase back down over the bone, or pull the drawstring on the calico bag) and then you put it back in the fridge. Voilà! Dinner and the dishes are done!
One year, our friends invited us to their place for an impromptu post Christmas festivities dinner.
I’m just going to throw the left over haloumi on the BBQ. My friend said.
And ham. We have ham. She added.
Half-heartedly I offered to bring a salad. Perhaps some baby spinach, tomato. A cucumber?
You can if you want… she replied, her voice trailing off. Then she said confidently, But I’m eating cheese for dinner.
And that’s what we did. We ate cheese for dinner. Cheese and ham. It was awesome and entirely acceptable because it was December 27th.
I grew up in a house where the leg of ham was a much anticipated part of the Christmas tradition. Certainly a Christmas treat. We would start Christmas morning with ham on croissants for breakfast and continue on Boxing Day with my Dad’s version of Eggs Benedict (which was nothing like real Eggs Benedict) and finish a few days later with the leftovers made into a dish affectionally known as “Haberdashery”, a diced ham & potato concoction served in a gravy like sauce.
Despite this creative ham dedication of my upbringing, I don’t normally buy a leg of ham at Christmas. My husband is missing the gene that makes him love meat off the bone. He has looked at me with revolt when I have eaten T-Bone like Sandra Bullock pre-makeover in Miss Congeniality and he shrugs off the idea of ham on toast for dinner saying that Weet-bix will be fine. His face drains of colour and I see him physically baulk when I suggest keeping the ham bone to make pea and ham soup for Winter.
But now, with two young daughters who are partial to small goods, I have attempted to carry on my family tradition with the purchase of a small half leg of ham. And we did enjoy it for Christmas breakfast on crunchy, flakey croissants served on a lovely old serving plate like the ones in Shop 8, Fairies at Work. And we have eaten the obligatory ham on toast, ham sandwiches, ham and eggs and then, Just Ham. And when the New Year arrived and the ham was carved right down to the bone, I wrapped that leg tightly in cling wrap and put it for safe keeping in the freezer, ready for Winter and the pea & ham soup. So really, it is actually Ham 6 Ways.
Ham: The gift that keeps on giving.