Monday, March 21, 2011
Grilled ham steaks with maple brown sugar glaze, green beans with toasted almonds
Tonight I was cooking on a tighter budget than usual, so I started by seeing what I have on hand. Luckily there was plenty of canned vegetables to choose from. There was also a prepackaged pasta side dish. The biggest bit of luck I had then was the fact that there was a nice sized piece of ham in the freezer.
Next item on the shopping list is the pantry items that were available. For me this is usually the easy part, because something in my day will leave me yearning for a particular taste. Today it was not very cold out but the ground was covered with a fresh layer of snow. Quite a contrast from yesterday's spring-like day. With the temperature being warm and rising throughout the day it created a very foggy uninviting day.
The weather leaves me wanting something warm and inviting. I chose to go with something sweet and salty for the main dish. I took the ham out of the freezer and thawed it. I then sliced it into nice 1/4 inch thick steaks, and seasoned both sides with salt and pepper. I set these aside for the moment to get the next thing started.
My wife was willing to lend a hand tonight, so I asked her to make the pasta side for me. That would leave me free to make the veggie dish and something to go with the ham steaks. In the cupboard I found sliced almonds, which immediately made sense to go with the two cans of green beans I had also found. I took some butter and olive oil and put them into a frying pan on medium heat. While the pan was heating I cut the almonds into smaller pieces, just once or twice through the pile with a sharp knife. Once the butter melted and began to foam, I added the almond chunks.
At the same time I took a small sauce pan put some brown sugar, molasses, and some maple syrup. I added a couple tablespoons of water in as well to dissolve everything. I put this pan over medium heat and continued to stir it and the almonds at the same time. I adjust the heat up and down on the syrup to allow it to foam but not burn. You will have to occasionally stir this to prevent burning, but you can still do other things at the same time.
I then fired my electric griddle for the ham steaks. I let it get hot first, then place the steaks on, as the ham is fully cooked I am trying to caramelize the outside. Then I turn down the heat to warm and cover it with some foil, this will trap in the heat and moisture so the ham doesn't get dry. Now I turn my attention back to the almonds. When they begin to brown I add the canned green beans with the liquid and turn the temp up a little. This will boil off the liquid and steam the green beans. When most of the liquid is gone it is ready.
Don't forget I also had syrup going. When the syrup thickened enough to coat a spoon I turned off the heat on it to allow it to thicken even more. At this point I plate the ham steak, some of the pasta side my wife made and a portion of green beans and almonds. Then I spoon 2 tablespoons of syrup on and spread it out over the steak, and then add one more spoon full. This was a very light dinner, it was warm and inviting with it's aroma and appearance. It seems a little involved but I assure you it was very simple. Since I used things that I had accumulated in my pantry and freezer there was no money spent today. For me this can be very important as I am on a limited budget, that is more limited on some days.
My wife and my mother-in-law both enjoyed this meal as did I. Tomorrow I will not be cooking, I will be away at chorus practice with my wife. So, I will see you all back here on Wednesday. I may post some ideas for Wednesday tomorrow. I will be blogging about what I cook for dinner once a day, I am hoping that people will give me new ideas and things to try. I prefer to cook everything from scratch and when I do, I will include the recipes that I use. Hope to see you all soon.