Friday, January 3, 2014

Ham & Swiss Casserole

I get a little too excited about leftovers. It's hereditary, I think. My mom can take a ham or turkey or whatever and magically turn what's left into amazing new dishes.

So, I can tell you that I was ecstatic when I ended up with just about a whole ham to make into yummy meals. On Saturday, we hosted my family Christmas get-together. We had planned to serve a ham I had in the freezer, but after cooking it ahead, I realized that there wasn't going to be enough for 13 people. To make a long story short, I had to send Hubby out Friday night to get a second ham. I went from being disappointed that we probably wouldn't have any leftovers to having a bunch of extra.

The one thing I knew I had to make with our leftovers was this Ham & Swiss Casserole. This actually is a recipe my mom tweaked to make her own. The original was from one of those community cookbooks and was called "Ham Rolls Continental." It was made with thick slices of deli ham and Swiss cheese rolled around a broccoli spear and affixed with toothpicks. Well, "Ain't nobody got time for that!" So, Mom would always make it this way with leftover ham. Ham & Swiss Casserole is one of my favorite comfort food recipes.

Here are all the ingredients ready to go, minus the butter, salt, and pepper.

The process is pretty simple. You just prep the ingredients, layer them in a casserole dish, pour the sauce on top, and bake.
The sauce isn't all that difficult to make, but it can be a little intimidating if you're not used to making sauce with a roux. Once you get the hang of working with roux, it's a great way to make homemade versions of cream soups to use in casseroles. You can find recipes all over Pinterest.
After melting the butter and cooking the onions until they're translucent, you stir in your flour and seasonings. Once they are well-mixed, it will look like this. 
Then you're ready to slowly stir in the milk. Once it's added, it will look like this.
Keep stirring for 2-3 minutes, and it should thicken up nicely. At this point you should remove the pan from the heat. If you let it cook too long, it will get very thick and glue-like.

Ham & Swiss Casserole:

  • 2-3 cups chopped leftover ham
  • 6-7 slices Swiss cheese
  • 1 package (10 or 16 oz.)  frozen chopped broccoli
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 Tablespoons flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon (or less) salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon basil
  • dash pepper
  • 1 cup milk
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Partially cook the broccoli (about 3 minutes in the microwave). Allow it to drain in a colander while preparing the rest of the ingredients. (This keeps the casserole from being watery.)
  3. Spread the chopped ham on the bottom of a 13x9 casserole dish, top with broccoli, and then cheese.
  4. In a small saucepan, cook the onion in the butter until tender. Add in the flour, salt, basil, and pepper and stir until combined.
  5. Slowly stir in the milk and cook until thickened, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and pour over the casserole.
  6. Cover with foil and bake for 25-30 minutes. Serves 6. 

Mmmmm... I promise you, it's delicious! We had our Ham & Swiss Casserole with oven roasted potatoes, but it's also excellent served with toast or rice. In fact, I might try to make this next time with rice in the casserole, though I'd probably increase the amount of sauce so it wouldn't be too dry.

I've made good use of all that leftover ham. We had sandwiches for lunch a few days, a Cobb Salad for dinner Sunday night, and this Ham & Swiss Casserole on Tuesday. Then, so we didn't get completely hammed out, I froze a bone and some of the meat to make soup in a week or two.
Do you get as excited as I do about leftovers? What is your favorite recipe using leftovers?

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