Posts Tagged ‘potato’

Mmmm… Don’t you just love a Sunday ham? Drizzled in all it’s maple, sugary, honey, roasted goodness? It’s one of my favorite “wait-all-day-for-it” meals, because I’ve never had a bad ham. Really. Never had one.

But one of the best parts of a ham for my family is the after-products from that delicious chunk of pork. Particularly the soup. My mother and my mother’s mother, and HER mother’s mother all made soup from the ham bone and the little bits leftover ham that escaped the dinner table (and sometimes had to be saved by themselves in a secret Tupperware dish in the back of the fridge so that soup could be made!) This is my mother’s recipe with just a little bit of adaptation, I don’t use the bones for stock due to lack of time. (If you’d still like to know how to make ham stock click here.) it takes about 45 minutes to an hour depending on how thick and rich you want it, and it tastes amazing, every time. You won’t be disappointed.

Ham and Potato Soup

4 cups of water
1 cup chicken broth, or 3 chicken bouillon cubes, crushed
4 cup washed diced potatoes (I like to leave the skin on)
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup peeled sliced carrots
1/4 cup minced onion
The chopped ham bits from last night, (I usually save around 1 to 1-1/2 cups if I can)
3 1/2 tbsp of butter or soft spread
1/4 cup all purpose flour generously seasoned with salt and pepper
2 cups of 2% or whole milk (You can use 1% or skim, but add a little extra flour for richness)4 sprigs fresh parsley
Grated cheese (Parmesan or Cheddar work best)

In a large stockpot combine all of your vegetables, the potatoes, the ham and the water. Bring these ingredients to a boil, then cook over medium heat for about 15 to 18 minutes, until the potatoes are tender and are all the same pale white color, then add the chicken flavoring of your choice.

Melt the butter or spread in a smaller saucepan on medium low, then slowly whisk the seasoned flour into the butter, then gently pour the milk, a little bit at a time, into the butter flour mixture, and make sure that any lumps are quickly whisked out. The smoother the better for the consistency of the soup. Continue to stir, reducing the heat to low, for 5-6 minutes until the sauce is super creamy.

Stir the sauce into the soup, then serve in individual bowls. My mom always topped with some kind of grated cheese and a pinch of minced parsley, then served it with Keebler Club Crackers or even oyster crackers. My dad tops his with BacNBits.

Some of the additions or substitutions I’ve tried include a can of creamed corn added with the butter/flour mixture at the end, or other vegetables like broccoli or cauliflower. I’ve also made it the soup extra thick and topped it with a puff pastry circle then baked it in the oven for a “pot pie” kind of meal.

I am not necessarily a “sweets” person. While I will eat a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup faster than the average bear, I don’t crave things like chocolate, I prefer unsweetened tea, and am addicted to pretzels. I am a salt addict, rather than a sugar-holic, so my “sundaes” are usually white, creamy and covered in brown sauce. Yes, I am talking about mashed potatoes. And not the boxed powdered processed flake kind either. I am talking about the smooth creamy lumpy goodness known as home-made mashed potatoes.

One of my favorite purchases from stores like Publix or Walmart is a giant 5 or 10 pound bag of Russet or Gold Potatoes. It’s usually around 5 or six dollars for a pretty good size bag, but the possibilities that are presented by a giant bag of potatoes are endless, and I usually end up making about six or seven different meals out of the bag, plenty of food for a week. Not bad for $5, right?

This incredibly inexpensive grocery item can be made to suit anyone’s tastes, can be as simple as just potatoes and water, (my infant son’s version) or can be as loaded as bacon-sour cream-chive-cheese-chili-loaded potatoes. You can make them into potato skins, you can bake them in the oven, you can scoop the middle out, add ingredients and then pipe the mixture back into the skins and re-bake them, (twice baked potatoes). Leave the skins on for more nutrition and texture, or peel them right after boiling to make the job easier and appease picky eaters. Potatoes were such a staple of the Irish population that a blight that killed their potato crops resulted in the Great Potato Famine in the early 1900‘s, which is a leading reason why the US is filled with so many peoples of Irish heritage, like me!

Smashed Potatoes

This recipe is an adaptation of my Mom’s Thanksgiving Mashed Potato recipe, the only difference is I make mine with milk, when she used to make hers with cream. Subbing the milk makes them a little bit lighter, and removes a lot of fat and calories, but if you want to try it as my Mom’s recipe, please do.

You Will Need:
5 large potatoes
6 cups of water
1 cup 1% or 2% milk, heated
1 tablespoon dried parsley
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon non-dairy creamer
1 tablespoon dried minced onion
Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper to taste

Scrub your potatoes, remove any eyes, softened parts, bruised areas, and peel them if you want to. Potatoes are not washed very well coming out of the ground, so it might be a good idea to invest in a small fingernail nail brush to scrub over the skin if you don’t peel them. Like I’ve said, a lot of the nutrition in a potato comes from the skin, so keep ’em on!

Continue as follows…

Fill a large pot with 6 cups of water, heat it to boiling. Cut the potatoes into chunks. The smaller the chunks the faster they cook, but the bigger the chunks the more flavorful the potatoes, and remember that no matter what size you cut them make sure the pieces are all the same size, so they cook evenly. I usually slice mine into 1” thick rounds, then cut the rounds in half, so that they cook relatively quickly, but aren’t too soft.

Drop the potatoes into the boiling water, and then let them boil approximately 8 to 12 minutes.  or until soft, but still structurally firm. You don’t want mush, but you don’t want uncooked chunks either. If you let the potatoes sit in cold water and then heat they usually aren’t as fluffy. The starches inside the potato turn kind of gummy as they are slowly heated, so dropping the potatoes into boiling water results in a lighter fluffier mashed potato consistency.

While the potatoes are boiling assemble the rest of the ingredients, and warm the milk in the microwave for 30-45 seconds. Mix all the  dry ingredients, except for the cheese, salt and pepper, until they are combined, then add them to the warm milk, stirring until the creamer dissolves. If you don’t heat the milk you are going to have lumps of creamer in your mashed potatoes. 🙂

Remove the potatoes from the heat and drain them thoroughly. Put them back in the pot, and set the heat to low, then pour the cream and herb mixture over the top of the potatoes and use a potato masher or a large ladle to mash the potatoes and mix the ingredients in. In the example I added a tablespoon of Shedd’s Spread Country Crock Butter.

Photo Courtesy of CountryCrock.com

Texture is up to you. Personally I am a HUGE fan of chunks. But families with little children may prefer smooth potatoes, so smash as long as you like. Serve the potatoes hot with a dollop of sour cream or butter. Sprinkle the salt and pepper and Parmesan over the top. Delicious.