Stretch Your New Year Dollars with a Bone-In Roast Ham and Navy Bean Soup
The holidays are done. You are craving more simple food. You need to save money to pay back your credit cards or replenish your Holiday bank fund. So, buy a bone-in roast to save money and time.
It seems counter-intuitive, right?
While large cuts of meat might be more expensive up-front, you will save a lot of money and time with meal prep if you chose a larger cut of meat and make multiple meals with it. Also, right after the new year is a great time to scoop up some killer deals on larger, more expensive cuts of meat that were selling at a premium during the holiday season. Even if you do not cook up the roast immediately, you can freeze it and have a delicious roast at any point for up to half-off the holiday prices.
One of my favorite local butcher shops is Ream's Meat Market in Elburn, Il. I bought my Christmas Eve turkey from them, as well as some killer "Sexy Mushroom Cheese" (it is seriously called that, and they mean it), fresh Polish sausage and other delicious meats to serve during the holiday season. But I also know to go the week after New Years, when they discount what they over-purchased during the holidays. This year, I got an amazing ham for 40% off. And not just any ham, but a house-cured Duroc Ham.
The Duroc pig is an American heritage breed, originating from the early 1800s in New England. They are medium-sized, have floppy ears, and reddish hair. One of the things I really like about heritage pork breeds is their fat marbling. In the 1980s, when pork started to be labeled as "the other white meat," some of the fattier heritage breeds fell out of favor with the public as lean meats took a larger market share.
However, we lost something when we collectively decided to rid ourselves of fatty meats - TASTE. Taste is why these early-domesticated pigs are worth every penny. While the Berkshire pig has got to be my favorite for flavor, the Duroc is very close behind (If you are interested in learning more about fat and what we did to meat to rid ourselves of this great "evil" in our food I highly recommend Jennifer McLagan's excellent history and recipe book, Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, with Recipes.)
Anyway, the Duroc pig makes one tasty ham:
This bone-in, and partial skin-on hamis easy to prepare. Please, please, please never buy an over-priced "spiral cut ham." or a de-boned ham (that bone is precious stuff), or use whatever glaze packet you might find nestled in with your ham. A ham, while looking impressive, is easy to make, and hardly needs a "recipe." Here is what I did for my 11 1/2 pound ham:
Bone-In Roast Half-Ham
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F
Score skin in a 1/2" to 1" diamond grid with a sharp knife (You will want to do this - trust me. Not only will it evenly baste your ham with pork fat, but the skin will crisp up. Once you glaze it you will have a delicious pork-skin snack that is salty, sweet and sticky with sugar and pork fat. You have to try it. I like to call it "pork candy")
Stud each intersection of your score marks with a whole clove. I also laid orange slices on top and removed them when they looked caramelized.
Place skin-side up into a large roasting pan. and add some water (or orange or apple juice) to the bottom of the pan, to a depth of 1/2".
Place in oven and roast until you reach an internal temperature of 140 degrees for a "fully cooked" or "ready to eat" labeled ham (15-18 minutes per pound), or an internal temp of 160 degrees for a ham labeled "cook before eating" (18-20 minutes per pound).
Make a quick glaze of a 1/4 c honey, 1/4 c brown sugar, and 1/4 c stone ground prepared mustard. Mix together and pour over ham about 30 min before the end of the roasting time.
Allow them ham to rest for 20-30 minutes before slicing
Good luck trying to not eat all the glazed skin before you are ready to carve!
If you make this on a Sunday evening, you will have a lovely end to your weekend, and delicious meals all week long. Of course, you can always freeze some of the slices of cooked ham (which I like to do to use a lunch meat for sandwiches for a few weeks). I freeze thin slices in 1/4 pound packages and simply thaw overnight in the fridge. But there is so much more you can do with the leftovers:
ham with scalloped potatoes
ham in crepes with spinach and Swiss cheese
ham with potatoes and cabbage
And the list goes on.
But what to do with that bone? Don't waste it - that's for sure. That ham bone is bound for a hearty soup. Like my navy-bean soup recipe below. A soup like this will further stretch out your ham for many, many more meals. Sick of ham by the time you get to the bone? Freeze the bone for when you are ready, or make the soup and freeze that for a quick meal anytime.
Navy Bean Soup with Ham Bone
1 ham bone with lots of ham still attached (or add in cubed ham later)
16 oz dried navy beans, rinsed, picked over, and soaked overnight (or at least 6 hours) in water, drained
2 TBS olive oil, butter, or leftover bacon fat
1 medium onion, diced
4 carrots, cut into 1/2" slices
2 celery stalks, cut into 1/2" slices
2 shallots (or you can also use 1 clove of garlic), minced
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs of thyme
2-3 springs of parsley
Enough water or stock (or a combo of both to cover all ingredients
Salt & Pepper to taste
1. Melt the oil/butter/fat in your stockpot and add onions. Saute until just turning translucent.
2. Add carrots, celery, shallots/garlic, and saute until fragrant.
3. Add soaked and drained navy beans, herbs and ham bone. Cover with water, stock or a mix, and bring to a simmer. Skim any fat or foam that comes to the surface.
4. Reduce heat and add a cover to pot. Continue simmering for 3-4 hours. Occasionally check on and stir the soup to make sure you do not have anything sticking to the bottom.
5. [Alternate directions: If you have a cock-pot large enough, you can do the sauteing in a pan, then add all ingredients to the crock pot. Set the heat for low, and let it cook for 6-8 hours.]
6. Remove herbs, pick ham off of bone and discard bone (or add some cubes of leftover ham in if your bone was picked clean). Add picked ham back in to soup.
7. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
8. Optional - using a potato masher, mash up some of the beans to make a creamier soup.
Serve with crusty bread (like the Caraway Rye Bread recipe here) and fresh butter for a hearty lunch or dinner!