Ham and Chicken Succotash, Easy Slow Cook Recipe

Chicken and Ham Succotash

Succotash is a pretty ordinary side dish, but this chicken and ham succotash makes it into a nice main dish and with just a little tweaking, turns it into something to rave about. And if you’re lucky enough to have some fresh or canned corn and baby Lima beans, the amazing flavors are truly something to dream about. And it actually works best in a slow cooker.

So what makes it different? Start with some great ham and nice chunked chicken breasts (you can do them sous vide if you like), add some fresh cream of chicken soup (I make my own, which I have to condense a bit, but you can certainly find store-bought or better yet, something made fresh from some other source), a little red pepper and a little scallion. Add a little (or maybe more) red pepper to spice it up a beat and you’ve got a good, fresh meal.

Oh, and to be sure, get some (or make some) biscuits. They’re essential.


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Lamb Chops with Ham, Garlic and Basil

lamb chops with ham, garlic and basil

Lamb chops are one of those dishes you can go to with very little trouble and yet produce a spectacular dish — one that will keep company coming back time after time or just satisfy a family. First of all, good loin or center ribs are probably the best a lamb has to offer and yet, served on a plate or on a center dish, they look just delicious.

This lamb dish has a great deal going for it. It can be done in a frying pan. It  doesn’t require much except a little ham (this time from a Honey-Baked ham) but you could also use pancetta to make it just a bit more Italian. The rest is just some olive oil, plenty of garlic and a little basil. The result is unpredictably good, maybe one of the best lamb chop meals I’ve ever made, and with so little effort.

Just make sure you’ve got the pan really hot at the end and that’s all that’s needed.

Add these on a plate of roasted Brussels sprouts and you’ve got a great meal.


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Ham and Corn Risotto

Ham and Corn Risotto

So we all know risotto, that lovely rice dish, is definitely an Italian original. This ham and corn risotto (though I don’t know it’s heritage), is most likely something cooked up probably a good way from Italy. That said, there still is something about smoked ham and good corn that makes this risotto as good as it could ever come from Italy or anywhere else.

I should probably mention that under almost any circumstances, I’m good for risotto just about anytime you could bring it up. There is something about that Arborio rice and chicken broth that really gets me going. So when I came across the recipe from Southern Living, I had to try it and man, was it good. I did resort to making the risotto the traditional way, with lots of care in the execution, but apart from that, I really didn’t change a whole lot.

Give this a try. I think you’ll like it.


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Croque Monsieur — The French Bistro Sandwich

Croque Monsieur

Had it been invented here in the U.S., the croque monsieuer would be considered “bar food,” but since it was created in one of the many bistros in Paris sometime around the turn of the 20th century, the name is much fancier. This version is slightly modified from the French classic to take advantage of some wonderful ingredients I happened to come across.

The ham came first. The traditional croque monsieur would use boiled ham, much like the ham you can get at just about any deli in any supermarket. Just a short drive from where I live, however, is Virginia ham country, and so I sometimes get my hands on some excellent thin-sliced lightly smoked country ham from Surry Farms. If you really like ham and you want a real treat, you can order it online. You’re not likely to find anything better.

Then the cheese. In Paris, it would be gruyere or ementhaler, or maybe Compte for this sandwich, but I also had on hand some Balsamic Bellavitano from Wisconsin’s Sartori Cheese, so in the interests of making this an all-American version of croque monsieur, I figured I’d give it a shot. Good choice, it turns out. It complimented the ham well and wasn’t overpowered by the rich bechamel.

Finally the bread. The classic version uses slightly sweet bread called pan de mie, which resembles brioche. If you can get your hands on brioche, great. I’ve found that challah works well and is close to the French pan de mie. Some versions of this sandwich call for using what Americans call French toast — bread dipped in whipped eggs and fried crisp. Feel free to do that if you’re making this recipe. Personally, I like the crunch of grilled bread.

If you’re not familiar with French sauces, bechamel is one of the so-called mother sauces. It’s just a white roux of flour and butter, with some milk whisked into it, flavored with a bay leaf and a bt of nutmeg, salt and pepper. For this sandwich, I also add a tablespoon of Dijon mustard. I’ve included a small-batch recipe for the sauce that makes enough for two or three sandwiches.

Croque monsieur is perfect for a nice lunch or even better as part of a more elaborate brunch. It pairs well with a rich chardonnay.

Croque Monsieur
Had it been invented here in the U.S., the croque monsieuer would be considered "bar food," but since it was created in one of the many bistros in Paris sometime around the turn of the 20th century, the name is much fancier. This version is slightly modified from the French classic to take advantage of some wonderful ingredients I happened to come across.
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  1. Thin-sliced smoked Virginia ham (or boiled ham from the deli), enough for 2-4 sandwiches.
  2. Gruyere, Ementhaler, or Sartori Balsamic Bellavitano, enough slices to cover the ham on the sandwiches plus 1/4 cup grated for each sandwich.
  3. Two slices soft-crust slightly sweet bread such as brioche or challah per sandwich
Small Batch Bechamel
  1. 2 Tbsp. butter
  2. 3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  3. 1 cup milk at room temperature
  4. 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  5. 1 Tbsp. dijon mustard
  6. 1 bay leaf
  1. Prepare the bechamel by melting the butter in a small saucepan, and when it has clarified and just begins to bubble, add the flour all at once. Stir and cook for several minutes, until the roux is nearly dry. Whisk in the milk a little at a time and then continue to cook until the sauce is thick and creamy. Stir in the nutmeg, mustard and bay leaf and cook for 2-3 minutes more. Set aside.
  2. Butter all sides of the bread slices and assemble the sandwiches with the ham and sliced cheese. Grill on a hot griddle until nicely browned and cheese begins to melt, turning once. Place the sandwiches on a non-stick cookie sheet or broiler pan.
  3. Top each sandwich with enough bechamel to just reach the edges and sprinkle 1/4 cup grated cheese on each sandwich. Run under a preheated broiler until the sauce on top is bubbling and browned.
  4. Serve immediately.
Discovery Cooking http://www.discoverycooking.com/
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Croque Frere

croque frere

For some reason, I was craving a sandwich the other day while researching some egg recipe ideas that were bouncing around in the back of my head. That’s when I stumbled on a French-themed brunch sandwich dubbed croque mademoiselle. A quick tour around the net turned up a croque monsieur, and a croque madame, too. These sandwiches all had a couple of things in common: grilled bread, ham, some kind of cheese and an egg on top. So for fun, I decided to make my own version, which has been dubbed croque Frere, in honor of my little brother, who has a birthday coming up shortly. 

The idea was to use what I happened to have in the fridge, which consisted of some leftover honey-glazed ham, a little compte cheese, and a partial container of crème fraîche. Rather than use bread, I opted for breakfast biscuits I’d made that morning, just because they were handy. 

The sandwiches were fantastic and will likely be a goto for late breakfasts and lunches around the house. The cheese sauce, which was inspired by the croque mademoiselle featured in my favorite egg cookbook, Eggs on Top, was the star. The comte cheese, which subbed for the Gruyère in the original, gave the sauce some nutty flavor that worked very well with the tang of Dijon and shallots. And those did well with the sweetness of the ham. 

Give this one a shot. It’s worth the little bit of effort.

Croque Frere
Croque frere is a take on the French sandwiches that feature various combinations of bread, ham, cheese and are topped with a fried egg.
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  1. For each sandwich, a large biscuit (about 3 inches across), sliced
  2. Sliced, baked ham (honey glazed is best)
  3. 3 Tbsp. creme fraiche (or sour cream)
  4. 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  5. 1 Tbsp. minced shallots
  6. 1/2 to 1 cup grated Compte cheese (Gruyere or even Parmesan will work, too)
  7. Softened butter
  8. Salt and pepper to taste
  9. A fried egg (over easy)
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Generously butter the biscuits and grill them on a griddle until the surface is browned and crunchy. Set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, stir together the creme fraiche, mustard, shallots and grated cheese. If it's too thick, thin with a little milk.
  4. On a baking sheet, place the ham on the bottom biscuit slice, top with the cheese sauce and the biscuit top. Bake for 2-3 minutes, or until the cheese sauce is hot and bubbly.
  5. Place the sandwich on a warm plate, top with the fried egg and serve immediately.
Discovery Cooking http://www.discoverycooking.com/
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