This September 2020 photo shows a sliced baked ham on parchment paper in Washington, D.C. Leftover ham, which will last for up to five days in the fridge, can be a springboard for other meals during the week. Of course you’ll want a sandwich or two, but there are many other ways to put that porky, smoky flavor to good use. (Cheyenne Cohen via AP)

This September 2020 photo shows a sliced baked ham on parchment paper in Washington, D.C. Leftover ham, which will last for up to five days in the fridge, can be a springboard for other meals during the week. Of course you’ll want a sandwich or two, but there are many other ways to put that porky, smoky flavor to good use. (Cheyenne Cohen via AP)

How to make an Easter ham last all week — or longer by properly freezing it

Sandwiches will eat up some of those leftovers, but what about the rest? Try adding it to a salad, a casserole or an omelet.

By Katie Workman / Associated Press

The beauty of making a baked ham for Easter (or any holiday or large gathering) is that there’s bound to be leftovers.

Leftover ham, which will last for up to five days in the fridge, can be a springboard for other meals during the week. Of course you’ll want a sandwich or two, but there are many other ways to put that porky, smoky flavor to good use.

Freezing it

First off, you can always freeze leftover ham if you can’t use it all within several days. Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or some type of reusable wrap that really clings to it. Place the wrapped ham in a freezer-proof bag. Press out any excess air from the bag, seal and freeze for up to six months.

You can also slice or dice your ham before freezing. Diced or sliced ham will also need to be well wrapped before freezing, and is best when used within four months. Don’t forget to label your ham with the date.

To defrost frozen cooked ham, transfer it to the fridge and let it defrost. Small pieces of cubed ham will take about a day to defrost. A larger piece of ham may take up to two days. Do not defrost ham at room temperature, which can allow bacteria to form.

Best ham sandwich

There are ham sandwiches, and there are Ham Sandwich Masterpieces.

My favorite version is made with toasted sourdough or country white bread, lots of crunchy lettuce, slices of an assertive firm cheese (like Provolone or sharp cheddar), coarse or grainy mustard (like Maille), mayonnaise, some verrrrrrryyyyy thinly sliced onion, and maybe a slice of tomato, if they are in season. Simple and classic.

Also, layer some ham into a grilled cheese sandwich — its own perfect kind of pleasure.

A versatile addition

Diced or chopped ham is a great addition to salads: Try adding a cup or so to macaroni salad, Cobb salad, potato salad or kale salad. Or make a simple ham salad with chopped ham, mayo, minced celery and onion, and a bit of mustard and relish, along with salt (be judicious — most hams are salty) and pepper.

You can also give a casserole a boost with leftover ham. Add it to dishes like baked tortellini or baked macaroni and cheese. Diced ham is a good addition to vegetable gratins and potato dishes of all kinds, such as scalloped potatoes. Quiches, soups, stir-fried rice and more. And don’t forget about braised greens like collards or mustard greens.

If a recipe calls for bacon, consider using ham.

Eggs are always a perfect partner to ham, whether scrambled, in an egg sandwich, or as part of Eggs Benedict. A classic Denver omelet is a perfect way to enjoy ham in a new guise.

Not wasting food has never tasted so good.

Classic Denver Omelet

2 or 3 large eggs

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, divided

3 tablespoons chopped cooked ham

2 tablespoons chopped onion

2 tablespoons chopped bell pepper (any color or mix of colors)

2 tablespoons shredded cheddar cheese (optional)

Directions:

Whisk the eggs with salt and pepper in a small bowl and set aside.

Melt half of the butter in an 8-inch omelet pan or shallow skillet, preferably nonstick, over medium-high heat. Add the ham and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 2 minutes, until it starts to brown on the edges. Add the onion and bell pepper and stir occasionally for another 3 minutes until the vegetables soften slightly. Transfer the ham and vegetables to a small bowl.

Return the pan to the heat and add the rest of the butter. Let it melt, and swirl the pan so that the butter coats the bottom evenly. Pour the eggs into the pan and quickly shake and swirl it so the eggs cover the entire bottom of the pan. Let the eggs firm up on the bottom, about 30 seconds, then use a rubber spatula to lift the edges of the omelet up, so any uncooked egg on the top runs underneath.

Sprinkle half of the eggs with the sautéed vegetables and ham and the cheese, if using, and let it cook for another 30 seconds. The top should be moist but not quite runny (unless you like it runny). Flip the untopped side of the eggs over the filling, and slide it onto a plate. ​

Katie Workman writes regularly about food for The Associated Press. She has written two cookbooks focused on family-friendly cooking, “Dinner Solved!” and “The Mom 100 Cookbook.” She blogs at themom100.com. She can be reached at Katie@themom100.com.

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