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Ham & Mac Bake



My last year in high school I started collecting a series of books by the people at Better, Homes & Gardens. They came one every couple of months or so and I thought they were just fabulous.  They were some of the very first cookery books I used.  There were quite a few volumes, each one pertaining to a different cookery subject. One on meat, another on chicken, there was a casseroles one, one on entertaining, etc.  This recipe today came from a volume filled with money saving budget recipes and became a real favourite of my family through the years.


Its a great way to use up some of the ham left over from a roast ham, and in fact, I will sometimes pick up one of those small dinner hams at the grocery store, just so I can make this old standby of mine. 



Cubes of cooked ham are mixed together with cooked macaroni and slices of sweet apple in a delicious, creamy sauce which is lightly flavoured with mustard and brown sugar. I am sure that it sounds a bit unusual, but it really is quite tasty. The original recipe called for plain ordinary mustard, but I now use Dijon, which is not as bright yellow in colour and has a nice depth of flavour without being too sharp.


Of course ham and mustard are perfect partners anyways, and who hasn't enjoyed a brown sugar glazed ham?  I have often heard of people glazing their hams with apple butter, so really using sliced apple in this is not much of a flavour stretch, and the apple is a flavour partner, albeit it somewhat unusual,  that goes amazingly well.


The sauce is creamy without being too rich. You can use whole milk in this but more often than not I use 2% or semi skimmed. It works just fine.  I have even made it with re-constituted evaporated milk in the past when I was really having to pinch the pennies.  All work well.


You can use white bread for the crumbs, although nowadays I am more apt to use whole wheat. I actually have come to prefer whole wheat bread now because of its almost nutty taste and texture, and of course it is much better for you.  I usually serve this with  salad and pickled beets.


*Ham and Mac Bake*
Serves 4 to 6
 

This is a wonderful casserole that is not only very tasty, but also very easy on the budget as well.  My children always loved it when they were growing up and it was something different to do with the ham that was leftover from Easter.  I often buy a slab of ham at the shops so that I can make this as well.
 

225g of uncooked macaroni (2 cups)
65g cup butter (1/4 cup)
45g flour (1/4 cup)
2 TBS Dijon mustard
salt to taste
1/4 tsp pepper
480ml  milk (2 cups)
2 TBS soft light brown sugar, packed
2 cups cubed, fully cooked ham (about half a pound)
2 medium eating apples, peeled and thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
1 1/4 slices of bread made into soft bread crumbs (about 1 cup)
2 TBS butter melted 


Cook the macaroni in lightly salted boiling water until done, according to the packet directions.  Drain well, rinse with cold water and drain again.  Set aside until needed. 


Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/ Gas mark 4.    Melt the 1/4 cup of butter in a saucepan. Whisk in the flour and cook, stirring, for one minute over low heat.  Blend in the mustard, salt, pepper and sugar.  In the meantime bring the milk just to the boil.  (Just until bubbles appear around the edges)  Slowly whisk the heated milk into the flour mixture, cooking and stirring it until thickened, smooth and bubbly.  Stir in the cooked macaroni, ham and apple slices.  Turn into a greased 2 litre casserole dish. 


Toss the bread crumbs with the 2 TBS butter and sprinkle evenly over top of the casserole.  Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until bubbly and lightly browned on top.  


Simple, old fashioned and delicous, this recipe would be the perfect way to use up some of that Easter Ham. Over here most people cook lamb for Easter, but the North American in me always wants a baked Ham at Easter.  Old habits die hard.  Bon Appetit! 






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Marie Rayner
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2 comments:

  1. Looks so yummy! Perfect end-of-winter food and great for a group, too.

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    1. Thanks Jeanie! It’s a great dish to take to a covered dish affair for sure! Xo

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