Holiday Leftovers

Every holiday, I am faced with the dilemma of what to do with leftovers. As much as leftovers can be tasty—and quick to reheat—I personally get rather tired of eating the same thing again and again. At Thanksgiving and Christmas, I am usually more than satisfied to have a turkey salad sandwich the day after the big meal, and then I’m done.

For the past couple years, we have cooked a ham at Christmas, in addition to the turkey. A small ham makes for tasty snacking and sandwiches when we are busy wrapping presents or prepping for the holiday. And we had leftover ham.

This year, I used leftover ham in two different ones.

Ham Casserole

I don’t know what exactly to call this gratin-style dish, which is essentially ham, potatoes and green beans in a white sauce. It’s not beautiful, but it is tasty and warming during the doldrums of the post-Christmas slump. This dish could easily also incorporate leftover roast potatoes and beans (if you have them). I first encountered something similar in the UK, and I really enjoyed it.

Serves 2-3

1 cup, chopped leftover ham
2-3 medium potatoes, boiled and sliced
1 onion, chopped
1/2 leek, chopped (optional)
1 cup leftover or frozen green beans
1 cup milk
2 tbsp flour
2 tbsp butter
1 cup grated old cheddar (even leftover cheese from a cheeseboard would work)
Salt and pepper, to taste

1. With the butter, sauté onion (and leeks, if using them) in pan on medium heat until softened.
2. Add flour to pan, stir with onions for 1-2 minutes, then whisk in the milk. Turn off heat. Add half the grated cheese, and season with salt and pepper.
3. In medium ovenproof casserole dish, add potatoes, ham, and beans. Stir in white sauce. Top with remaining grated cheese.
4. Bake in 350F oven until top is golden and bubbling, about 45 minutes.


Along with the leftovers of our charcuterie platter, I used up some leftover ham in a pizza. Traditionally my family always made homemade pizza on Christmas Eve as a way to keep the kids busy and to change it up from all of the heavy roasts. However, now that my siblings and I are all adults, pizza doesn’t work quite so well with a half a dozen hungry adults.

So this year, we made our pizza few days after Christmas, which was a pleasant change. I incorporated prosciutto, salami, and ham into my pizza. However, if you have any baby tomatoes or pepper slices from a veggie tray, those could also work well.

Cider Braised Pork and Root Vegetables


When the weather gets cold, the oven gets busy!

During the last few weeks, the cold has really set in here. The leaves finished falling off the branches last month and we have had a sprinkling of snow on the ground some mornings. Late fall is my favourite time of year, in part because of its cozy, comforting nature.

This is the time of year when I start to break out my stew and casserole recipes. Root vegetables start to crop up into most dishes, replacing salads and raw vegetables of the summer. I had a hankering for a braised pork dish recently, and recalled the cider-filled stews of the UK, like Cider-Braised Pork and Parsnips. Cider, which is made from fermented apples, is a beverage that has been around for thousands of years. Britain has a strong cider tradition, and this was brought over to North America, where apple trees were able to easily grow. Recently, in southern Ontario (where I live), there has been a craft cider revival. There are dozens of ciders available in most stores, and craft cideries have popped up all over. Because I prefer cider to beer, I have been quite excited about this resurgence of cider!

Not only is cider tasty to drink, but it is also excellent to cook with. Cider is an ideal compliment to pork, and stars in this dish. You can brown the pork chops before braising, but it is not necessary. The cabbage is optional, but I find that braised cabbage is the best way to cook it, so I set it to the side of the dish to cook there alongside the rest of the meat and vegetables.


Cider-Braised Pork Chops and Root Vegetables

Serves 4

4 bone-in pork chops

1 large onion, sliced
2 parsnips, cut into chunks
2 carrots, cut into chunks
2 apples, peeled and cut into chunks
1/4 of a head of cabbage, finely sliced (optional)
2 bay leaves
1 bunch of fresh thyme
1 tsp garlic salt

1 bottle hard cider
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 cup chicken stock

Parsley, minced (optional)
Salt and pepper, to taste

1. Heat oven to 340F.
2. In a large, oven-proof casserole dish, add the sliced onions, carrots, parsnip, apples, and herbs. Pour in the chicken stock, cider, and cider vinegar.
3. Arrange the pork chops on top of the vegetables. Sprinkle garlic salt over top.
4. If desired, push the pork chops to one side of the dish, and set the cabbage in the freed-up corner.
5. Season with salt and pepper. Cover, and put in the oven for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
6. If so desired, serve sprinkled with parsley, with mashed potatoes.