* small canned ham
* Dijon mustard
* apricot preserves
* pinch of tumeric
* whole cloves
* brown sugar
Open a canned ham and dump ham and all the juices into a tiny casserole dish that just barely holds the ham. Using a small dish will help keep the juice so it doesn’t evaporate in the oven. Score the ham by making diagonal cuts all across the top, in two directions. At each intersection (top and bottom of a diamond), push in a whole clove. You will use around 20 cloves. Now mix 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard and 4 tablespoons apricot preserves. Spoon half of this on top of the ham thickly, saving the other half. Then, spread 1 tablespoon of brown sugar on top of the apricot/mustard ham mixture. Warm through for 45 minutes in a 325* oven. Warm the remaining sauce to offer individually over the ham. Only remove the cloves right before you serve. Don’t eat them.
The ham is now much improved, but in my opinion, really doesn’t stand on its own. Leave the ham in the little casserole so it can absorb the juices. Waste nothing.
Suggestions for use:
* First meal: sliced and served with mustard/apricot preserves sauce at Sunday lunch. Sometimes it’s nice to just have a solid meat serving on your plate looking at you.
* Second meal: ham sandwiches, bread spread with mustard and garden vegetables such as onion, tomato, pickle, lettuce or even sauerkraut. Mustard masks flavors better than mayo.
* Third meal: ham bits in omelets, topped with salsa or pico de gallo, sour cream, and cilantro
* Fourth meal: small diced pieces used as seasoning in a pot of beans, bean soup, potato soup or corn chowder
* Fifth meal: used as a seasoning in macaroni and cheese, quiche, potato salad, or potato casserole
Every time you are able to use ham bits in a dish, you considerably ratchet up the nutritional value. Hungry people appreciate meat protein sources and won’t feel so much like they are seldom getting meat at a meal.
Obviously, the little ham won’t stretch that far to prepare all those above dishes, but you get the idea. Use strong seasonings to mask and improve the canned flavor. Serve with any jelly or preserves such as chili pequin pepper jelly, mint jelly, habañero jelly, grape jelly, cranberry sauce or even BBQ Sauce. Different types of mustard (All-American yellow, grainy, Dijon, wine) go far in kicking up the flavor.
There are many international sauces including Thai Hot Chili Sauce, Hoisin Sauce, Soy Sauce, Plum Sauce or even dressed up good ol’ catsup that can be used. Fruit cocktail and canned pineapple have traditionally been used with ham.
As a side note, in any of those ham meals you can substitute diced Vienna sausages.
I grew up rather meat-poor and am very familiar with canned meats. As an aside, now I realize why I was so skinny growing up. It’s rather shocking to me now to realize how my parents who had a very lovely home filled with inherited family furniture and treasures worked so hard to put some kind of meat on the table every night. We ate potted meat, deviled ham, canned hash, Vienna sausage, canned salmon, and canned tuna. My folks never were into Spam or canned chicken. Foods I refused to eat were canned sardines and pickled pigs feet That was a particular favorite of my sweet father who had starved during the Depression. On the other hand, I always enjoyed fresh beef tongue and fried chicken gizzards, liver, and heart, but these are for another article.
Tiny cans of Potted Meat or Deviled Ham are stretched and improved with pickle relish, mayo, and diced hard boiled eggs. And, diced capers or diced green olives work, too. Either spread on bread for a sandwich or serve with crackers. The next canned meat treat suggestion is to fry up canned hash in a little olive oil and serve with plenty of catsup. Add onions, some herbs of choice, and even add a diced cooked potato as you fry to bump up the nutrition.
My husband and I once ate at the Las Vegas restaurant of a celebrity food chef who served a runny egg over plain old hash. Pretty delicious. I already mentioned that Vienna Sausage can substitute for canned ham in any recipe. It’s not the same, but hey, it’s meat. We ate canned salmon just dished out of the tin with yellow mustard on top, but many people stretch salmon into croquettes made of breadcrumbs, torn bread, or crackers. Be sure to offer a delicious dipping sauce, either store-bought or made in your own kitchen. Just think how Chick-Fil-A revolutionized chicken nuggets with their Polynesian sauce.
Canned tuna is my specialty, and I just love it. Be sure to buy it packed in oil. Your body needs fats to work and for efficient metabolism. If there are ever lean times, the oil from tuna may be a life saver. Plus, packed in oil is just tastier than packed in water. Lightly drain some of the oil and dump the tuna in a bowl. Save the oil for another use. Add diced celery, onion, apple, a bit of lemon juice, your choice of pickle or pickle relish to kill the canned fish flavor, salt and pepper. By this time the amount of food in the bowl has at least doubled and you only see sparse flakes of tuna among all that other goodness. This tuna can go on a bed of lettuce, a sandwich or simply with crackers.
My father’s idea of heaven was a jar of pickled pigs feet and a tall glass filled with crumbled corn bread and cold buttermilk. Just think how this filled many nutritional needs, even though today we may might think that this meal has a high yuck factor.