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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Week after Easter Potato Salad



That ham bone is starting to make you feel guilty every time you open the refrigerator. Look at all the meat that is still clinging to the bone; but it's mostly in little pieces that are hard to think of ways to use it. And boiled eggs! Nobody in the family even wants to hear about another egg salad sandwich for at least a month, and plain boiled eggs for breakfast have also lost any special "magic they might have had before.

Time for a potato salad dinner, one that is really fast to make and different from the rest of what you've been having lately. Today's recipe is a variation on a "German" Potato Salad my kids' Great Grandma often made in the summer--and always when there was going to be a "brat" fry.

Using ham scraps and some of that extra fat around the bone will still give the smoky flavor Great Grandma's bacon and bacon fat provided, and the eggs will provide more body and texture, even as they are more "hidden" from those who might be ready to complain about "oh no, boiled eggs again. (In case you noticed, yes my photo has the eggs on the side. Just couldn't get the photo to look quite as good without them placed separately. Some day I'll get this food photography thing down!)

I also use something Great Grandma never had to cook the potatoes--my microwave. The potatoes cook in just about the same amount of time the rest of the recipe comes together, a real benefit at the end of a busy day. Add a tossed salad and/or fresh fruit and you have a complete meal.


German Potato Salad with Ham
This amount serves four as a main dish or six if it is used as a side. It is easily doubled for potlucks and picnics too.  

1 pound potatoes, in large dice (or sliced)
about 1 to 1 1/2 c small ham pieces, with fat not trimmed off
1 small to medium onion, diced
1 c water--divided
1/4 c sugar
2 T cider vinegar
2 T cornstarch
2 boiled eggs, coarsely chopped
salt and black pepper to taste

1.  Place the potatoes in a microwave safe mixing bowl (about a quart to a quart and a half size) with 1/2 cup water. Cover loosely and microwave on high about 7 minutes. Stir after a few minutes and then check again after about 6 minutes to be sure the potatoes are just done but not too soft. Microwaves vary, so you may have to make some adjustment in the time.

2.  Meanwhile, put the ham in a skillet. if it is very lean, you may need to add a teaspoon or two of oil, to just cover the bottom of the pan. Heat the ham over medium high heat, stirring and pressing on the pieces to release the fat on to the pan.  About a minute or so before the potatoes are done, add the onions to the ham and allow to cook lightly.

3.  Stir together the sugar, cornstarch, vinegar, and 1/4 c water in a measuring cup, until the mixture is very smooth. 

4.  When the potatoes are done, drain any remaining liquid into the sugar and vinegar mixture and add enough water to reach the 1 1/2 cup line. 

5.  Pour this mixture into the pan with the ham and onions. Stir until the mixture becomes thick and clear. Fold in the potatoes and chopped eggs, turn off the heat, and allow the mixture to sit for a few minutes to blend the flavors.

6.  Now, check for seasoning, adding salt and pepper to taste. You need to wait until this point because there is so much variation in the saltiness of ham.  Best served warm but it can also be chilled if you prefer.

VARIATION--if you also have leftover potatoes (like those little red ones you boiled in their jackets and served with just a bit of butter and salt and pepper), make the following changes:  Omit the potato water in step 4 and just use tap water to reach the 1 1/2 cup level.  Stir the potatoes into the sauce and allow to simmer on low for several minutes, until they are thoroughly heated through.

Frugal? Of course--this uses those leftovers you might otherwise be tempted to toss.
Fast?  From the time you start scrubbing the potatoes until the salad is ready for the table, you probably won't have spent more than half an hour.
Fun? Potato salad is one of those foods I think of as a warm weather dish, so this just might make you feel a little more springlike.


Tomorrow I'll be adding a soup recipe or two for the bone and any juices you may have reserved. Meanwhile, you can look to my very first Frugal, Fast, and Fun blog post for my take on classic
 Split Pea Soup with Ham .




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