Making Sunday Supper Special

So often, we reserve certain “traditions” for particular days. Turkeys at Thanksgiving and Ham at Easter are two great examples of this. Why Ham at Easter? There are all sorts of theories – most of which aren’t very flattering to the Christian believer who eats ham at Easter.

The real reason is one of practicality that began way back when. (And I don’t mean ancient times but rather life before refrigeration). The simple truth behind hams at Easter is actually because hams are in season! Historically, pigs were usually slaughtered in the fall, when it’s chilly outside and the cold could keep the meat fresh during the several days it would take to break down and prepare the hog. (It’s also widely believed that pigs slaughtered after the first frost taste better, because they’ve been grazing on acorns and insect-free grass.) The hams would be cured over the winter and be ready to eat by the time spring rolled around. Another reason for ham’s inclusion in the Easter feast is size. A single ham is usually enough to feed a large group of people, so it’s ideal for a big family dinner such as Easter.

The beauty of modern living is that Ham can be had year round. This complete ham supper is delicious and we don’t have to wait until Easter for a wonderful family supper. Any Sunday is perfect.  Whenever possible, I like Sunday dinners to be special in honor of Sunday. Sundays are special. As a Christian, I believe Sunday was the day the Lord rose from death. That alone is reason enough to want to honor the day in a special way. While every day is a blessing and should be savored, Sundays are important. Sundays are for family. Counting our blessings and spending time with those we love is a nice way to end the week or start the week, depending upon how you want to look at it. Embrace everything!


Sunday Supper Menu
Blood Orange Glazed Ham
Mema’s Au Gratin Potatoes
Asperges à la sauce Hollandaise


Before we get to cooking, let’s address a small kitchen dilemma many of us face. The ham warms at a very low temperature. The potatoes are cooked in a moderately hot oven. If you don’t have dual ovens, this seemingly difficult problem can be solved one of two ways.  Option one would be to heat the ham in a roasting oven while you cook the potatoes in your regular oven. If you don’t have a roasting oven, cook the potatoes first, then turn down the heat and cook the ham. While the ham is “resting”, turn up the heat and rewarm the potatoes.  If you do the one-dish at a time method, plan to start the asparagus and Hollandaise sauce when the potatoes are warming.  The timing should be right to have everything come together in the end.

blood-orangeJust a quick note regarding Blood Oranges. As the name indicates, these oranges are a crimson or blood color. They are strikingly beautiful. Blood oranges need a temperate climate with a hot growing season and cooler weather to bring out their true color. Thus, they flourish in the Mediterranean, where they likely originated, and in parts of California. Blood Oranges are a winter harvest. While they can hit the markets as late as spring, the best selection is in December and January.


Blood Orange Glazed Ham
6-8 Lb Ham Virginia Ham
4 blood oranges (or naval in a pinch)
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup water

Zest 1 entire blood orange into a small sauce pot.  Then juice that orange and two additional ones (juice from 3 total oranges) into the pot.  Over medium heat, whisk in the brown sugar.  Lower the temperature to a simmer and let it reduce until you have a slightly thickened sauce that can be poured over the ham.

When it is ready, preheat your oven to 275 degrees. Pour and then rub the glaze over the entire ham, then add the ½ cup of water to the bottom of the roasting dish.  Cover pan tightly with foil to allow ham to steam warm.  This will keep the ham from drying out.  Place in the oven and warm slowly.  About mid-way through the heating, uncover ham, spoon juices over the meat then cover again and continue to cook.  (Bone-in ham will take about 20 minutes per pound, boneless will take about 15 minutes per pound.  Take care, as the boneless ham may dry out if not allowed to “steam” warm).

You’ll want to cook the ham to an ideal temperature of 150 degrees. When the ham is done, let rest for about 20 minutes to help hold in the juices.

Slice the final blood orange into rounds and add to the ham and serving platter.


Mema’s Au Gratin Potatoes
6 Medium Russet Potatoes (about 2 lbs) peeled and thinly sliced
¼ Cup Butter
1 Medium White onion, chopped (about ½ cup)
1 Tablespoon Flour
1 Teaspoon Salt
¼ Teaspoon Black Pepper
2 Cups Milk
2 1/2 Cups Sharp Cheddar Cheese, shredded (½ cup reserved)
½ Cup Monterey Jack Cheese, shredded
½ Cup Fine Dry Bread Crumbs
Paprika

Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Peel potatoes and slice into thin disks using a food processor or vegetable slicer. Cut enough potatoes to measure 4 cups. Place sliced potatoes into cold water until ready to use, then drain.

Heat butter in 2-quart saucepan over medium heat. Cook onions in hot butter until soft, about 2 minutes. Stir in flour, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, until bubbly; remove from heat.

Stir in milk and 2 cups of the Cheddar cheese and all of the Monterrey Jack Cheese. Return to heat and cook until boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir 1 minute.

Drain potatoes in a colander and shake to remove excess water. Spread potatoes in an ungreased 1 ½-quart casserole dish. Pour cheese sauce over potatoes. Bake, uncovered, 1 hour.

Mix remaining cheese, breadcrumbs and paprika (just enough for a nice color). Sprinkle breadcrumb mixture over top of potatoes and bake an additional 15-20 minutes or until top is brown and bubbly.

Asperges à la sauce Hollandaise
Hollandaise
3 egg yolks
1 Stick unsalted Butter
1/2 Lemon, juiced
2 teaspoons boiling water
1/4 teaspoon salt
Fresh ground black pepper to taste

Asparagus
2 lbs Green Asparagus, thick stalks
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 lemon, juiced

First, make the hollandaise. This recipe makes about a cup of sauce.

In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks until well-blended, about 20 seconds. Add the salt.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan. In a small cup or bowl heat the juice of 1/2 a lemon to lukewarm in the microwave, about 5-10 seconds. In another cup or microwave bowl heat a small quantity of water to boiling, about 2 minutes.

Begin adding the melted butter to the yolks, teaspoonful by teaspoonful, whisking constantly. When the sauce begins to thicken, add a few drops of the lemon juice. Continue in this way until all the butter and juice have been incorporated. Stir in the boiling water.

Grind in some pepper and check the flavorings, adding more salt if necessary.

If serving within the hour, place the bowl in a warm place, for example beside the stove. If serving later, place the sauce in the fridge. Before serving, heat an inch of water to lukewarm in a large pot. Turn off the heat. Place the bowl of sauce in the pot, taking care not to get any water into the bowl, and stir the sauce occasionally until it has softened. Be careful: if the water is too hot, the sauce will curdle.

Wash and trim the asparagus. Asparagus will “snap” just above the woody end. You want the asparagus to be about 6-8 inches long.

In a large non-stick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter to sizzling. Turn down the heat to medium and add the asparagus. Gently squeeze the juice of the remaining lemon half over the asparagus.

Using a broad spatula, turn the spears over from time to time until they are browned more or less evenly, about 10-15 minutes depending on the thickness of the asparagus. The spears will remain mainly green, with patches of crispy deep brown. Check for doneness by tasting a spear. It should be tender but slightly al dente.

Just before serving, place the asparagus on a serving platter. Spoon Hollandaise sauce over tips for a nice presentation, with the remaining sauce served table-side.

Author: Rosemarie's Kitchen

I'm a wife, mother, grandmother and avid home cook.I believe in eating healthy whenever possible, while still managing to indulge in life's pleasures.