Cheesy Ham and Pasta

One of the delights of my day (at least on most days) is creating a meal for the enjoyment of our family. Here is one I put together the other day.

We had a pig butchered at Williams Locker recently and one of the great and useful cuts we get is a smoked ham steak.

I diced up about two thirds of the ham steak (saving the other third for ham and eggs for another meal) and fried the ham in a couple tablespoons of butter. The ham has some extra moisture from the brining process, so it takes a little heat to drive away the moisture and get a little sear on the meat. Before I started with the meat, I also put in a box of pasta to boil. Cubed and boiled potatoes would also work well.

I like the flavor of garlic with the ham and cheese, so I put in about half a teaspoon of minced garlic and mixed it in with the ham for the last 20 to 30 seconds of frying the ham. I then added a couple tablespoons of flour and mixed it in to create a roux.

I gave the roux about 30 seconds to cook away the flour flavor and then slowly added milk, mixing it in as I went to incorporate the roux and start the thickening process while also working up the flavorful bits from the bottom of the pan into the mixture. I don’t measure many things, but I guess I added somewhere between a cup and a half to two cups of milk.

While giving time for the roux mixture to heat through and thicken, stirring occasionally, I grated around a 1/2 pound of cheddar cheese. I like the sharpness of cheddar with the ham, a nice gouda or alpine cheese would also work nicely. Once the roux mixture was thickened and bubbling, I added the cheese to the pan and incorporated it into the sauce.

For the last couple minutes of the pasta cooking, I added some frozen broccoli into the pasta pot. I then drained the pasta and broccoli and added it to the pan with the ham and cheese sauce.

I folded the pasta and broccoli into the sauce and then plated it up for eating and enjoying.

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Best wishes for your food enjoyment, John