I didn’t want to go shopping this afternoon so I checked what I had at home. I thought about the last bit of Christmas ham.
It was a bit dry this year, but it had a good taste with all the spice cloves stuck in the fat, so I can probably do something about it, I thought while checking for any remaining potatoes. Potatoes are always going well in a gratin, and look here, seven potatoes here, and a pair of onions. I Looked in the fridge and found half a packet of mushrooms that started to look a little brownish, so it’s time to take them now if I intend to use them. I had four deciliters of milk left, so that’s just enough. Garlic? Yes, I bought a big one the other day, didn’t I.
And then cheese. I have just started on this Christmas cheese, so it’ll be fine taking a bit of it.
While slicing the potatoes and the onions, I diced the ham, and saw that some pieces were just fat. OK then. Two fat pieces went to dress the baking pan and three pieces of fat I put in the frying pan instead of butter to fry the mushrooms. It sounds a bit greasy, but it was in the fat the cloves were set and I wanted to try to keep as much of that flavor as possible. While putting everything in layers in the buttered baking pan, I kept an eye on the milk on the stove. It’s always a hazard I would say. Before it started to boil, I sprinkled three tablespoonfuls of flour on the milk, giving it a good stir before putting maybe ten cheese slices into the thickning sauce. Really yummy now, pouring it all on top of the potatoes, onions, mushrooms and ham. I got a bit annoyed as I saw that though I’d switched on the oven I had forgotten to set the temperature. Well, well. Up with the temperature to 200 degrees Centigrades and in with it all. It will probably be alright.
Then I had time for the salad. Otherwise, I often get stressed, making the salad at the last minute before serving the meal. Well, with a gratin in the oven, that’s not a problem, but when I cook meat or fish – I don’t usually plan things well enough to make the salad ready first. But then I want it as fresh as possible with everything freshly chopped and salad sauce at the very last before I put it on the plate.
Today’s salad idea I had got from a friend on facebook. The heavy Christmas table could be well balanced with a mix of chopped apple, sliced celery and cubes of fresh plain cucumber. I decided I wanted lemon, so I squeezed over a bit, mostly for the apples not to turn brownish.
The potato-and-ham gratin was among the best I had so far this Christmas. Everything went according to my plans and even better. The previously dry ham was juicy and nice. The potatoes had absorbed the aroma from the spiced fat and tasted wonderful. Perfectly balanced flavors. Just got to sprinkle on a little salt because I’d been afraid the creamy ham would be too salty. So good! And the fresh sour salad and, finally, a half-bottle of rosé wine that was over since Christmas Day. Luxurious!
1 piece of christmas ham cut into dice
7 potatoes, sliced
2 onions in slices
Some chopped mushrooms
4 dl of milk
3 tablespoons of wheat flour
about 10 cheese slices
1-2 pressed garlic cloves
salt and pepper
Put the oven at 200 °C (about 400°F). Dice the ham and slice the potatoes and onions. Chop the mushrooms roughly. Cut up about 10 slices of the cheese. Grease the baking pan either with butter or with fat from the ham. Fry the mushrooms in melted fat also from the ham. Heat the milk and keep an eye on it while you are placing potatoes, ham, onions and mushrooms in the baking pan. Squeeze garlic cloves into the milk. Sprinkle the flour onto the hot milk. Stir for a while until it thickens. Put the cheese slices in the hot sauce and stir until the cheese has melted. Take the pan off the stove before it boils over. Season with salt and pepper and stir. Pour the mixture into the baking pan. Put into the middle of the oven and let it bake for about half an hour. Prepare the salad while the gratin bakes in the oven. Serve with rosé wine or – if you like – with half a pint of stout.