april 3, 2015
After you’ve carved the Easter ham to your satisfaction, you’re likely to have some tasty leftovers. One can only eat so many sliced ham sandwiches, so I’m offering a spicy ham spread that’s nothing like the canned versions you had in your formative years.
Remember deviled ham and potted meat? Creamy and pink, they were baby food for grownups, with a distinctive aroma and taste. As a kid, I loaded my knapsack with saltine crackers, potted ham spread and chocolate milk, intent on sitting under a shade tree to while away the hours, daydreaming and reading. Don’t believe I have opened a can since. But I like a good ham salad, with a little kick and some texture.
The act of “deviling” gained popularity in the early 19th century and referred to making food products spicier and thus devilish. The Underwood company capitalized on this trend with little cans of pink meat spread, replete with dancing demon on the label. My memory is not of spicy hot (and who thinks of spicy heat with classic deviled eggs?), but rather spicy aromatic.
Leftover cooked ham can be gifted with a little heat spice in the form of powdered chipotle pepper, but if you like a less assertive flavor, skip this and stick with the milder heat from whole grain mustard.You won’t need to add salt, since the ham will be salty enough. Most deviled ham spreads contain mustard, and something creamy like mayonnaise, or neufchâtel cream cheese, or softened butter to make them spreadable. I leave a little ham fat on my trimmings for flavor and softer texture, and use a good quality mayonnaise to make what amounts to a creamy ham salad.
Serve on crackers or toasted baguette slices for an appetizer, or slather on crusty bread for a nice alternative to the classic ham sandwich. Happy Easter!
Spicy Ham Spread
makes about 3 ½ cups
one pound cooked ham, or about 3 ½ cups loosely packed
1 tablespoon finely minced shallot
⅓ cup finely minced sweet pickle, or cornichons if you like sour pickles
½ cup finely minced Italian parsley
4 ½ tablespoons whole grain Dijon mustard
¾ cup mayonnaise
1/8 teaspoon ground red chipotle – I like Penzey’s
- In large bowl of food processor, pulse ham until finely chopped but with some chunkiness still visible.
- In large mixing bowl add remaining ingredients and mix well with spatula, adjusting seasoning to taste (start with a smaller amount of chipotle powder if you are sensitive to heat, and add the rest if you tolerate more heat).
- Add more mayonnaise if you prefer a creamier texture.
- No salt is needed because the ham will be salty enough.
- Chill several hours or overnight to develop flavor.
- For best flavor and spreadability, let sit at room temperature at least 20 minutes before serving.