Oh – I think I’m done with sugary things for a while. Christmas chocolate OVERLOAD has hit. Santa has delivered the goods – and they shall hang out in the living in a bowl until my nephews return from California to help out.
It is time for some savory to ease off the sugary. We had the best ham for Christmas dinner. We used the outline of the recipe found here (which made my husband’s stomach turn as he read it – but now he is sold!). As usual there were a few adjustments we had to make. For one, we don’t have bourbon in the house and this fact was discovered on Sunday – the day when the liquor stores are closed – too late to make a difference. While it may be shocking, the tequila I used in its’ stead was PERFECT. In fact, we will be using tequila in the future for this recipe as well. It doesn’t have as heavy an aroma as bourbon and made for what we presume is a tad milder tasting glaze.
To accompany the ham, we had:
- Scalloped potatoes
- Apple & cherry chutney
- Romaine heart & lemon zest salad
- My love’s oven tilapia fillets (which made my parents swoon)
- Vanilla and Cardamom Nog
- Smoked Salmon and GF Crackers
The beauty of ham is in the leftovers, however. The ham (along with the smoked salmon) made the best Benedicts. We served the slices of ham – or smoked salmon which is what I choose – over biscuits and topped it with a poached egg drizzled with balsamic vinegar and a tasty high-quality olive oil (one that is meant for dipping etc without cooking). I highly recommend this breakfast with anyone!
For our late evening snack, I made polenta fries. Polenta is a snap to make – the time comes from the cooling. So in fact, I made the polenta in the late afternoon and let it cool on the counter until we were about ready for a savory treat.
The recipe is fairly simple and more importantly, incredibly adaptable!
Consider adding the following to your polenta as it cooks to change the flavor:
- 1/2 cup of parmesan
- one small tin of green chilies
- 2 Tablespoons chopped jalapeno
- 2 Tablespoons of fresh rosemary and sea salt
- Chopped/minced sweet bell peppers (red for a color burst!)
- Chopped/minced red onion
- etc. – limited only by your imagination!
Here’s the basic recipe for the oven baked polenta fries. This polenta recipe makes a firm polenta that can even be put into a grill pan in the summer months (or less rainy days than what I encountered when I was making this…LOL). Grilling the fries adds a phenomenal smoky flavor too!
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 1 1/2 cups medium ground corn meal (sometimes called “Corn meal grits” and a variety of other names)
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt (*if your broth is salty, consider lessening this to taste)
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- …add whatever ingredient suits your fancy from the list above (be sure to add any cheeses to the END of the cooking)
- Line a 9 x 13 inch pan with parchment paper.
- In a medium saucepan, bring water, chicken broth, olive oil, and salt to a low simmer – but do not boil.
- Add the corn meal and pepper, stirring/whisking in until well blended.
- Continue stirring until thickened – 10 – 12 – minutes, depending on the type/brand of polenta you have. Cooking times vary based on the coarseness of the grind, etc.
- Pour the thickened polenta into the parchment paper lined pan and spread evenly.
- Allow to cool completely before making fries.
- 1 polenta recipe (see above)
- sea salt & pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 425F
- Lift the parchment paper and polenta out of the pan and lay on a cutting board. Using a knife or a pizza cutter, slice the polenta into “fries” (3/4 inch strips wide, then divide into 3-4 inch long fries).
- Transfer the cut “fries” onto a silpat or parchment lined baking sheet.
- Sprinkle with salt and pepper – to taste.
- Bake for 20 minutes and then flip and bake for an additional 12-18 minutes until golden. (The picture above shows some that are slightly overcooked to satisfy a craving for serious CRUNCH! by my family.)
- Serve hot with a variety of dipping sauces – BBQ, Ranch, Alio Oli, Sour Cream, herbed butter, etc.
PS. If you want/need the recipe for the Alio Oli, please let me know. I’d be happy to post that too. I’m just running out the door with my mom for some quality mom/daughter time, so I didn’t get the chance to post it now.