As many of you probably know by now, I’m a bit of a brunch fiend. I love the idea of a relaxed late morning/early afternoon meal, especially one that is likely to involve mimosas, and *especially* one where you have license to chow down a bit more than usual because it’s two meals rolled into one. Ah, heaven.
My latest brunch experiment is Ham and Potato Bake from the March 2005 issue of Everyday Food. This is another one of those recipes I’ve had my eye on for quite some time, but I hesitated to make it because it makes ten servings (for just us two people). Curiosity finally got the best of me, though, and I decided to give it a shot. Thankfully, the leftovers reheat beautifully (if a bit messily).
To start, I buttered a 9-inch round cake pan (at least 2 inches deep) and lined the bottom with parchment paper. (I just flipped the pan over before I buttered it, put a piece of parchment paper over the bottom, and followed the edges to cut a circle.)
In a large bowl, I whisked together 6 large eggs and 1 1/2 cups of heavy cream (naughty, I know); I seasoned the mixture with salt and pepper. Next, I used the slicer blade on the side of my box grater to thinly sliced 2 baking potatoes (1 1/4 pounds total). (The recipe said the slices should be no thicker than 1/4 inch; mine were thinner. I’m not sure they would have cooked through completely if they had been much thicker. If you have a mandoline – I don’t! – this is the perfect time to get it out.) I dropped the potato slices into the egg mixture.
To assemble the dish, I used a slotted spoon to lift half of the potatoes out of the egg mixture. I arranged them in the bottom of the prepared pan and then topped them with 10 ounces of sugar-baked ham (thinly sliced), 10 ounces of frozen broccoli (thawed and squeezed dry with paper towels), and 1/2 cup of grated cheddar cheese. I lifted the remaining potatoes out of the egg mixture, arranged them on top of the cheese, and poured the egg mixture over the top of the dish. Using the same slotted spoon, I pressed down on the top layer of potatoes to make sure they were completely submerged in the egg mixture.
I put the pan on a baking sheet (just in case!), covered the pan with foil, and baked the dish until the potatoes were tender (about 1 hour). Next, I removed the foil and put the casserole back in the oven until it was golden and set (about 45 more minutes). I let the casserole cool in the pan for 20 minutes, ran a knife around the edges, and carefully inverted it onto a plate. I peeled off the parchment, reinverted it (so we could see that beautiful browned top), and cut it into wedges using a serrated knife.
Yuuuum-MY. This was so incredibly delicious. (I’m sure the heavy cream had something to do with it, but what is life without the occasional indulgence?) I’m a big fan of broccoli-cheese combinations (broccoli-cheese rice, anyone?), and the ham was a terrific addition. The potatoes were perfectly tender, and the browned edges were exceptionally tasty.
We managed to eat about a third of the dish that first night. It became dinner the next night and Dr. O’s lunch on the third day. As I said, it reheated beautifully in the microwave… I cut each wedge in half for more even cooking and gave each serving 2 – 3 minutes of high heat. It popped a *lot*, but I’d still rather spend 5 minutes cleaning the microwave than 30 – 60 minutes cooking up another meal.
TIPS: Any 9-inch cake pan will work fine for this recipe, but I’ll admit that I used a silicone one to make removing the dish from the pan as easy as possible. I have a pan like this one, but in red.
My only “complaint” about the dish is that I had to make sure the ham was *completely* cut through before removing the slices from the plate. I didn’t manage a complete cut on my first slice, and the ham layer actually slipped clean away from the slice as I pulled it out. Next time, I think I’ll cut the ham slices into thin strips before layering the meat to prevent this from happening.
Recipe link: Ham and Potato Bake