Creamed Ham & Peas

There are a few holiday favorites that really do stand the test of time and for good, practical reasons. Ham is traditionally a Christmas main dish, and that is because in the days of no electricity and unreliable cold storage, meat had to be cured, cooked, or dried in order to be saved for future meals. When a pig was butchered, it was usually after the first cold snap (often near holiday time). That was when it was usually cold enough to store the meat til it cured, and there were more mouths to eat the fresh meat that wouldn’t keep, and because “doing a hog” required a lot of hands, usually people were available because the harvest was done. The old timers didn’t waste a single thing  on a hog, the fat was rendered into lard, even the feet and snout were used. Sausage made without machinery required many hands to knead all of the ground pork with the spices, and stuff it into the casings made of intestine. Other parts were hung and cured with salt, like the larger pieces of meat such as the hams and shoulders. The underbelly was sliced in thin strips for bacon. I’ve helped with an old fashioned sausage making party. It’s messy but kind of fun because a lot of people are doing the same thing you are doing and you know what you may be eating was made right in front of you. So we’re not eating anything but good ham here, and we’ve got refrigeration now so don’t be afraid to take some of your leftover Christmas ham and make this dinner.

Creamed Ham & Peas

  • 3 tablespoons of butter
  • 1/4 cup of chopped green onion
  • 2 teaspoons of  parsley (dried or fresh, if fresh, minced.)
  • 2-3 tablespoons of flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1-1/2 to 2 cups diced ham
  • 1-1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed, cooked and drained
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • *Package of  6 Pepperidge Farm® pastry shells

Preheat oven to 425°. Bake the pastry shells as per directions. While they are baking, prepare the frozen peas either in the microwave or stove; cover and set aside. To make the cream sauce: Heat butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the green onion and parsley, cook for one minute; it will start to bubble and stir in the flour with a whisk until smooth, a tablespoon at a time; keep it bubbling. Gradually add milk and cream, whisking after each addition. Fold in ham and cooked, drained peas, with salt and pepper; lower heat, stirring occasionally to keep warm. If too thick add more milk, if too thin, sprinkle in additional flour and mix well. When shells are golden brown, remove from oven. Take out the pastry shell centers with a spoon if desired; spoon creamed mixture into the shells and serve warm. Serves 4. (*This can also be served over rice, noodles or biscuits if you don’t have any pastry shells handy.)

saucepan creamhamp
Saucepan view. This is delicious!

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