When I sat down to look for my first Retro recipe of the year, I originally thought I should look for some retro fad diet food, as January is known to be the month most people diet as we returned from holiday indulgence. Instead, I quickly found myself absorbed by the 1965 Better Homes & Gardens Meat Cook Book. Not much healthy here. Even the salad pages contained almost no vegetables.
When I came across the creamed ham recipe, I was intrigued. I’ve read about creamed ham regular when looking at retro meals but never made it or even ate it before. I was hooked. The recipe called for popovers, patty shells or hot toast points to serve the ham on. In my haste, I read pastry shells instead of patty and thought “What a fun chance to finally try out the puff pastry dough I made over the summer!” It was too late by the time I noticed my mistakes and I figured puff pastry would work out just fine.
Creamed Ham in Popovers
- 1/4 cup of butter or margarine
- 1/4 cup of enriched flour
- 2 cups of milk
- 2 cups of diced cooked ham
- 1 3-oz can of broiled sliced mushrooms, drained
- 2 tablespoons of chopped green pepper
- 2 tablespoons of pickle relish
1. Melt the butter and blend in the flour.
2.Stir in milk gradually. Cook and stir until it thickens.
3.Add the ham, mushroom, green pepper and relish. Heat thoroughly.
4.Garnish with diced pimiento.
5.Serve in popovers, patty shells, or over hot toast points.
As I started making the recipe, I quickly realized it was basically a Béchamel sauce with the extra ingredients mixed in. Although unlike the Béchamel sauces I’m used to making, it wasn’t very seasoned, if at all.
As for my puff pastry, I might have been a bit too ambitious as I tried to make pastry shells similar to the ones you would use for vol-au-vents. You don’t know until you try it, I guess! I made a few attempts at shells and made simple circles with the rest of the puff pastry. The shells flopped to the side and the rise wasn’t quite right. But for my first puff pastry from scratch, I was still very proud!
My final thoughts: The creamed ham was very bland. I added some salt and pepper but it didn’t help much. In theory, it’s very similar to all the béchamel/gratin dishes I’ve made in the past but the seasoning was way off. I also realized I’m not the biggest fan of ham in general. While I love cured meats, baked ham isn’t my jam.
The cookbook on its own is still pretty interesting to me. While I might steer clear from the creamy recipes, it also had a lot of good information (hopefully still accurate) on the best use and cooking methods from almost all meats you can think of.
As I discussed this recipe with my husband and how I couldn’t stand the idea to even eat the leftovers (I did have some more the following day and, to be clear, it doesn’t get any better with time. Possibly even worse.), he suggested coming up with revamped versions of the recipes that don’t turn out too good. So I will keep this in mind as I start this new year.