We'll start with the star of the show and go from there with verdict to follow.
I've linked to the recipe page so I don't intend to keep repeating the recipe here. However, this one was a little weird. See below:
"Place ham, fat side up, on rack in roasting pan; pour in 2 cups (500 mL) water. Cover pan tightly with foil; roast in 325°F (160°C) oven for 2 hours, adding more water if necessary to maintain level. Pour off drippings, reserving 1/4 cup (50 mL).
If ham has skin, peel off. Trim fat layer to 1/4-inch (5 mm) thickness. Diagonally score fat to form diamond pattern. Stud centre of each diamond with clove."
SO... I'm supposed to cook it for two hours, and then stud it with cloves? That doesn't sound right. I decided that these directions were flip-flopped and studded it first.
You'll notice it's too big for the pan. That's because earlier this fall my roasting pan was requisitioned as a drip catcher for the leak in our ceiling. The bottom was completely rusted out and it was in no way serviceable for dinner. So cake pan it was!
The directions told me to poor two cups of water in the pan and seal it tightly with foil. But... I was also confused about how I was supposed to get any drippings if this thing was poaching in a bath. It's true that the ham was supposed to be on a rack probably mostly above the water, but still, any drippings would have mixed in with the water and would have been impossible to reserve. I followed the directions though, because I want to start making more than the dozen or so dishes I know - can't do that without learning something new. I hear you can do that by following directions!
It went in there for two hours. It came out looking like this:
I should note here that there was hardly any fat on this poor guy. Even though I pinched my fingers very close to the end of the blade to keep from scoring the ham too deeply, I still cut into the meat of the thing. See how you can see the ham?
Also, as I predicted, there were no drippings to collect. Unfortunate, these drippings were to be used in...
1/4cup (50 mL) liquid honey
1/4 cup (50 mL) pineapple juice
1 tbsp (15 mL) butter
1 tbsp (15 mL) Dijon mustard
All but the Dijon in the pan, let go at medium high or so until reduced to half a cup. Not too hard, you just have to leave it there until it's done doing it's thing. Then you hit it with the mustard and... the pan drippings.
So, with a tablespoon I did try and pull some fat from the top of the water in the ham pan.
It was a bad idea. I knew better, but I was trying to follow directions.
Before these "drippings" the glaze was thick like caramel sauce. I had trouble staying out of it to be honest. But then I added what was basically ham water.
It went from this:
See how runny it is? It was sad. But that's okay, I put it in a skillet and made it awesome.
Now see how thick that is? "Man I'm good!" I thought to myself before I actually tried to brush that on the poor ham. "Oh..." I thought instead. I had to keep heating it to make it at all brushable. To be fair I did attempt to brush the runny stuff on the ham, and all it did was run off. I had to fix it and this stuff had no problem staying put.
Let's move on, shall we? I think we'll talk about potatoes next!
Crunchy Scalloped Potatoes
The first thing you should know is that these call for leeks. I was excited. I've wanted to cook with them for a long time and always scared myself off. Not this time!
What I soon learned is that you don't even use half of the leek.
See that? See what I cut it down to? You're supposed to cut it down until there's only white and "light green." Mine might have had more green than they should have, but these were almost three bucks a pound, that's all I was cutting.
I was supposed to cut the little nub of a leek into thin slices. But... I'd heard that sometimes sneaky leeks had dirt in them, and you had to wash it out. Sorta like celery? ...sure.
I could not find an entry into this thing to peel back the layers. I don't think it's built that way. I ended up slicing it down the side to about halfway through. There was no dirt. Hurray!
You simmer those with butter for a while.
See how pretty and green those are? So lovely. I fixed that.
You're supposed to cook them until they're soft and then add flour and milk and make a sort of gravy. Before I got that far I burned them. It's what I do.
I salvaged most of them, fortunately. Those bastards could have been charred though, and I still would have used them. Three dollars a pound!!
The directions told me to add the flour to the leeks, cook for a minute or so, and then poor in the milk. That sounded stupid. Does this recipe think lumps are awesome? I did this part in another pan and added in the leeks at the end.
You cook the flour and milk (and whatever flavorings you're supposed to throw in there - salt, pepper, thyme, whatever) until it coats the back of a spoon.
Does not coat the back of a spoon:
If you haven't caught on, the reason you're making this tasty gravy stuff is to add it to sliced potatoes and bake it in a casserole dish. It also says to use a waxy potato, but since I had a basket full of bakers in the garage, I used those instead. To account for how mushy they'd get I decided to under cook them. This only sorta worked.
Also, because in my family you make enough potatoes to feed the neighbors, I had too much potatoes:
That's what I get for not following directions. It said to use 2.5 lbs and put it in a 2 liter dish. That's the dish you see in the picture. Not gonna work. I threw about a third of them away because they didn't fit in the dish and I don't care about starving children.
For the topping I used panko crumbs, the Kraft Parmesan Cheese, and too much butter. You don't need a picture of that. It might have been too buttery because I used a drier sort of crumb, and the recipe called for regular old breadcrumbs. I fixed this whoopsie by adding more crumbs. Solved.
Also, I toasted them in a skillet first, because it ensures you get a crunchy topping instead of mush. Best Recipes didn't tell me this, my multiple affairs with mac and cheese did.
That all went on top of the potatoes in the dish and were ready for baking:
So... what's next? The salad? Sure.
Salad with Buttermilk Dressing
Gross. Here's a picture of me stirring up the dressing: