Baked Mac N Cheese with Ham

After the holidays, be it Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Fourth of July, New Year’s Day, I always try to stock up on the foods that were overstocked in the grocery stores. Many times you will spend three dollars a pound for a turkey but after the holidays you might see them for $ .89 a pound! So keep your eye on the ham after Easter and Christmas, the pork after New Year’s, and the beef and chicken after Fourth of July. Also, check the produce after the 4th too. Often those watermelons and cobs of corn are on the ‘not the best but still a good buy’ rack. AND the corn on the cob is usually husked for you when it’s on the day old rack! Woo hoo!

Anyway, my father-in-law came to our house for Thanksgiving. I made a turkey. But he brought a ham that he got for free through his local grocery store and I put it in the freezer. I recently got it out and thawed that bad boy and threw it in a roasting pan with a splash of pinot grigio, honey drizzled over the ham and some dijon mustard brushed on it. (Tightly sealed with foil and baked 15 mins per pound). We ate it hot that night for dinner. We ate it cold for quesadillas the next day. We ate it for breakfast piled high with an over easy egg on an English Muffin. The best part is, I pulled a bunch of the slices off for Josie’s lunches. I make her a real life “lunchamajig”. You know. Those prepackaged plastic trays with crackers and cheese and a cookie and that meat that’s perfectly round but not really identifiable. What is this? Ham? Turkey? One is the same color as the other and it almost looks like sliced hot dogs. Gross. Yeah, momma’s making Josie her own “lunchamajig”. That’s what I’m calling it.

I had a ton of ham left so I picked it all off the bone and chopped up one cup of the salty sweet goodness for the following recipe and put the rest in the freezer for many many more meals to come. Thanks father-in-law for the free ham! Maybe I’ll bring a casserole the next time we visit which includes some of your generous Thanksgiving donation!

Baked mac and cheese with ham

finished mac n cheese w ham

This recipe calls for 1 lb cooked pasta – your choice. I used mini shells. Cook until just under al dente. It will bake for awhile too so don’t over cook it at this time. A pointer: add some chicken bullion to your water before adding the pasta. Or just a tablespoon of salt. It adds so much to the flavor of the pasta if you flavor the water.

drain the pasta and put back in the pot (or in a big bowl) and add:

1 Cup sharp cheddar cheese and 1 Cup of the diced ham and toss to distribute the ham and cheese evenly.

Place the mixture into a greased 9×13 casserole dish.

Top with 1/3 Cup of dried Italian Style breadcrumbs and 1/2 Cup of sharp cheddar cheese

Top that with a couple pats of butter. Slivers of butter distributed over the breadcrumbs helps to brown the topping.

mac and cheese w ham before baking

Top with slivers of butter and drizzle with milk.

Now, pour one cup of milk (I used 2%) gently over the top of the pasta and breadcrumbs. It also helps to make the top moist and helps it crisp up in the oven.

Bake uncovered at 350F about 45 – 60 minutes until top is golden. Allow to rest for ten minutes before serving.

The creamy soft noodles and the salty ham is so yummy together. And if you chop the ham up in small enough pieces you often get a crunchy piece from the top that is a lot like BACON! Yum.

Enjoy!

 

 

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