Wednesday, January 2, 2013
It's time to face facts. 20 pounds of leftover ham is too much of a good thing. A week ago I would've argued that there was no such thing as too much smoked pork butt yumminess... but I would've been wrong. People that live in this house are starting to give me murderous glances when I mention the h-word. Self-preservation is in order!
No worries, though, I can work with this. They're sick of bean and ham soup? Ham sandwiches a no-go? Know thine enemy, I always say. They all absolutely love Clam Chowder. All I need to do is make a ham chowder dripping with the cheesy goodness of Gruyere running through it. And then to further entice them, I'll throw in some wild rice. And HA! I'll serve it in bread bowls... which automatically makes EVERYTHING delicious and makes the doubters in this family make little swooning noises.
And to further save myself, I'm going to concede and freeze the rest of Hamzilla without putting him in any more soups. I've pushed the ham envelope as far as it will go. For now.
P.S. (Which, by the way, stands for Post Soup) Tired of ham or not, I think this is one of the best soups I've ever made. The cheese gives an amazing silky mouth-feel and the rice adds a nutty chewiness that we all loved. Delicious!
Ham and Gruyere Chowder with Wild Rice
4 T. butter
1 lg. onion, small-diced, about 2 cups
2 carrots, small-diced
2 stalks celery, small-diced
1/2 t. freshly ground pepper
1/2 t. paprika
1 bay leaf
1 clove garlic, pressed through a garlic press
1/4 c. flour
4 c. chicken broth
2 c. cooked wild rice blend (I like Lundberg's)
2 c. small-diced leftover ham (you could use a large dice if your family isn't ready to kill you over ham)
2 c. cream (I'm sure you could use half and half, but I had cream)
1/4 c. finely chopped parsley
4 c. grated Gruyere cheese, tossed with 2 T. flour
In a heavy-bottomed soup pot, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Be careful not to brown it. Add diced onions and stir and saute them until they take on a lovely golden yellow color. You're not looking for full caramelization, but definitely past the point of simple translucence. Maybe 12 minutes or so?
Add in the carrots, celery, pepper, paprika, and the bay leaf. Continue to saute for an addition 3-5 minutes, or until vegetables start to soften. Stir in the garlic until fragrant, 30 seconds or so. Add flour and stir until all the vegetables are well coated and flour has lost its raw flavor. 1-2 minutes.
Add chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Add rice and diced ham and simmer 10-15 minutes or so, until ham is heated through and flavors combine. Stir in cream and heat until small bubbles are forming around the edges, stirring frequently. Remove the bay leaf and add in the parsley.
Turn heat to very low. Stirring constantly, add Gruyere one small handful at a time, waiting until each handful is completely melted and incorporated into the soup before you add the next. Once all the cheese is melted, serve!
If you re-heat this, be careful not to boil or it may separate.