French Ways with Leftover Holiday Ham

A Croque Monsieur with Béchamel Sauce: A Great Way with Leftover Ham. Photo by Thais-Gouveia via Flickr.

As I mention often in my book, French women are pros at “l’art d’accommoder les restes” (the art of using up leftovers). Below are a few ideas for making something beautifully French—bonne femme style—from your leftover holiday ham. (If you want ideas for leftover turkey, see this page).

1. Croque Monsieur Avant Toute Chose!
(Above all–a Croque Monsieur!)

If you think a Croque Monsieur is just a grilled ham and cheese sandwich, my book will set you straight on page 275. It’s all about that slather of béchamel, which transforms the treat from mere sandwich into a knife-and-fork wonder. Serve with a tart salad to contrast the richness of the sandwich. Or if you’re not in the mood for a salad, simply place a few cornichons (French sour pickles) on the plate. Or maybe you were lucky, and a good friend tucked some homemade pickles into your stocking…Use those! Here’s my recipe.

2. Soufflé! Why not?
Get fancy and make a Cheese Soufflé with Creamed Ham (page 307 of my book). In fact, this would be beautiful for a New Year’s Day brunch. Again, serve with a tartly dressed salad to contrast the richness.

3. Crêpes
Make crêpes (here’s my recipe). Remember, you can make them in advance and refrigerate (or freeze). Then, make a white sauce (béchamel, page 389). Blend some cubed ham with the béchamel, then tuck some into crêpes. If you want to get really indulgent. place the stuffed, rolled crêpes into a shallow casserole dish and sprinkle with some Comté or Gruyère cheese. Bake until cheese bubbles. Serve with peas.

French Ham and Noodle Casserole. My original recipe is for chicken, but ham will work beautifully in this. Photo by Richard Swearinger.

4. Ham-Noodle Casserole
This recipe was developed for chicken, but there’s absolutely no reason you can’t use ham. The flavors will go beautifully with it!

5. French Pizzas
Yes—The French love pizza, and they have their own way with the pie. Two of their favorites include Pizza Bergère (Shepherd’s Pizza, page 289) and Pizza la Reine (the Queen’s Pizza, page 288). If you don’t have my book, you can easily make these at home. Use your favorite crust (prebaked or not, according to directions), and top as follows:

  • Pizza Bergère: Thin slather of tomato sauce, thinly sliced baked or smoked ham, soft-ripened goat cheese cut into rounds, crushed dried herbes de Provence, pitted Kalamata olives, grated Comté or Gruyère cheese.
  • Pizza la Reine: Thin slather of tomato sauce, thinly sliced baked or smoked ham, sliced fresh mushrooms, pitted Kalamata olives, crushed dried oregano, Comté or Gruyère cheese.

Bake according to the directions for your crust.

6. Gratin Dauphinois with Ham
My book gives an everyday-easy version of French scalloped potatoes. Gently stir in about 1 1/2 to 2 cups cubed baked ham into the potato-milk mixture before baking.


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