The Dogpatch Ham



Does anyone remember the old comic strip called Li’l Abner? I am asking because, if you do remember, in the strip the Yokums always brought out what they called the Dogpatch Ham for every special occasion. It was the same ham time after time and just lasted forever, so I have made it the theme of this column because like the joke about holiday fruit cake, ham never seems to be totally eaten up and though ham is a great choice for picnics, holidays, family reunions and large parties, there is always some remaining after the fete. Fortunately there are a multitude of recipes using ham, besides ham and eggs or ham and “swiss”, or even eggs benedict which you might like to try should you be stuck with those leftovers. Therefore to help out, I have done some research as well as included a few of my favorite recipes which I present to you on the following pages.

However, to digress a bit, ham is very popular in many countries with specialties like Parma ham and Pro- sciutto from Italy, Iberica ham from Spain and special hams from Denmark. Ham is also very popular in China where they do like their porkers. You may have sampled these hams at home or abroad, but here in the USA we have the well-known Smithfield hams among others, including in Vermont where we have a number of specially cured hams from companies like Harrington’s, Dakin’s and Vermont Smoke and Cure. Bone in or bone out or spiral cut hams can be purchased on line from these purveyors if a store carrying these brands is not near you. So have no fear, you will not be stuck with the Dogpatch Ham, but will find many delicious ways to use up the leftover ham and bon appetit.


Baked Ham in Madiera
(Always use bone in for the best flavor)

1 whole ham or half with the bone in
1 tsp dried tarragon
1 Cup Madeira wine

1) Cut off ham rind and use it as a bed for the ham in the roasting pan. Score the top of the ham and sprinkle with tarragon. (If a half ham is used, butter the cut side generously). Bake in a 300 degree oven for about 2 hours. At the end of the first hour pour the Madeira wine over the ham and begin to baste regularly. If it browns too much cover with foil.

2) When the ham is done place it on a serving dish and cover with foil. Let it rest for 20 minutes before serving.

3) To make a sauce from the drippings, skim off the fat and bring juices to a boil. Add some plumped raisins and more Madeira if needed, season to taste and serve hot.


Ham Salad
(Good as an appetizer or in a sandwich)

2 Cups cut up ham
1⁄3 to 1/2 Cup mayonnaise
1 TBS Dijon mustard
1/2 Cup Pickle relish
Several grinds of pepper

1) Put all ingredients in a food proces- sor and grind till well mixed and just spreadable, not pasty. Taste for season- ings and if needed add more mayon- naise and pickle relish.

2) Use as a spread on crackers or on bread for sandwiches. Can be used as an ingredient in deviled eggs. Just add some of the ham salad to the egg yolks and fill the whites.

Though ham is a great choice for picnics, holidays, family reunions and large parties, there is always some remaining after the fete.


Spit Pea Soup With Ham
(A Sunday night tradition)

(Serves 6 to 8)

1 Pound green split peas
6 Cups water
1 TBS chicken or vegetable base
1 Ham bone
2 Carrots, peeled and cut into slices
1 Garlic clove, minced
1 Small onion, chopped fine
1/2 tsp dried thyme
2 Bay leaves
Salt and pepper

1) Rinse and sort peas. Put in a large soup pot with 6 cups water, ham bone, carrots, garlic, onion, thyme and bay leaves. Bring to a boil then cover and simmer for about 45 minutes till peas are very tender.

2) Remove ham bone from soup and when cool, pull off meat, shred and add to soup. Remove bay leaves. Add salt and pepper to taste.

3) Serve hot with croutons. If soup is too thick just add more water.

Note: This soup can be made in a crock pot if you put the temperature on low for 4 to 6 hours.


Potatoes Au Gratin With Ham
(An easy party favorite)

(Serves about 8)

2 Pounds red potatoes, peeled and sliced about 1/8 inch thick
1 Cup grated Gruyere or Manchego cheese
1 1/2 tsps salt
1/4 tsp pepper
3 TBS butter plus additional for greasing pan
2 Eggs
2 Cups half and half
Several slices of ham

1) Place sliced potatoes in a bowl of cold water for about 10 minutes. Drain and dry.

2) Grease a shallow casserole then layer as follows. 1/2 of the potatoes, 1/2 of the cheese, some salt and pepper. 1/2 of the potatoes, the remaining salt and pepper, the slices of ham, finish with 1⁄2 of the cheese. Dot with butter.

3) Beat eggs with the half and half and pour over the ham and potatoes. Bake uncovered in a 350 degree oven for one hour and 15 minutes or till potatoes are tender.


Ham Divan
(An oldie but goodie from the past)

(Serves 6)

Several sliced leftover ham
1 Pound fresh broccoli, cleaned and cut into florets
2 TBS butter
2 TBS chopped onion
1/2 tsp dry mustard
2 TBS flour
1 Cup whole milk
6 Ounces Vermont cheddar cheese, cut in cubes

1) Cook fresh broccoli in salted boiling water till just al dente. Refresh under very cold water to bring back color.

2) Arrange broccoli in a buttered shallow casserole and place slices of ham over broccoli’

3) Prepare sauce by melting butter in saucepan over medium heat, Add onion and sauté till soft. Add mustard and mix well, Add flour and blend well, cook a minute or two then add milk and stir till smooth and thickened, Add cheese and stir till all cheese is melted. Pour over ham/broccoli.

4) Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes or till bubbly on top.

5) This dish may be refrigerated before serving. If refrigerated bring to room temperature before baking or bake longer till heated through. This dish may be frozen and baked in a 450 degree oven covered for 30 minutes and uncovered for 30 minutes.


Acorn Squash Candied With Cider
(A good side for the leftover ham)

(Serves 6)

3 Large acorn squash, halved
3/4 Cup apple cider
1⁄3 Cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
4 TBS butter
2 TBS brown sugar
1 TBS each butter and flour

1) Cook halved squash cut side down in a casserole filled with 1/2 inch of water in a 350 degree oven for 35 minutes. Pour off any extra water. (Squash may be refrigerated now till ready to finish. Bring to room temperature before proceeding).

2) In a saucepan combine the cider, sugar and butter. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Place squash cut side up in casserole and pour mix- ture over squash in casserole.

3) Bake squash uncovered in a 375 degree oven for 35 minutes, basting 3 or 4 times.

4) Mix together the 2 TBS brown sugar with 1 TBS butter and flour. Sprinkle over squash and bake another 10 to 15 minutes.



-Barbara Little