#Cookalongfriday – Something for the weekend – Ham & Pasta

A change in tack here at the cookalong:  I’ve gone into partnership with @relucthousedad, he of Reluctant Housedad blog.  He’s an all-round great guy and, it turns out, quite the chef.  You should try his steak!  Between us we’ll provide you with recipes galore to entertain and delight.  Or at least that’s the plan.  If you’re reading this and want to join in, add recipes to the mix, you’re all more than welcome!

Over at his blog today you’ll find Chicken Scallopini, a treat for the one(s) you love.  For my part, knowing there’s a few kids out there who would turn up their noses at such wonderful, sophisticated, fare, I present one of my children’s favourites:  Ham and Pasta.

This dish can be as simple or as complex as you like.  Once you’ve done it, you’ll see where you’ll want to make changes.

Shopping List

  • Ham.  Depending on the number of kids, I reckon on 2 nice thick slices per person.  What sort of ham is entirely up to you – smoked, unsmoked, Yorkshire…  Your choice.
  • Onion.  1 large for every 4 people you’re feeding.
  • Double cream.  1/3 pint per 4 people, maybe more, maybe less.
  • Wholegrain mustard.  1 tbsp
  • Pasta.  Portions according to manufacturer’s instructions.  To be honest, I’ve never used those instructions.  I use the “how hungry am I?” scale and work from that.

Lets get to work.

One thing about cooking when you’ve got a family is that faster dishes are better and more likely to make it onto the menu.  The pasta takes 11 minutes to cook, that’s how long it takes to do the rest.

  1. Boil the kettle, put a half-inch of water into the saucepan you’re cooking the pasta in, salt generously.
  2. While you’re waiting for the kettle to boil, chop the onion fairly finely, cut the ham into 1″ squares.
  3. Once kettle and pan are boiling, bang the pasta in the pan, cover with boiling water, put the lid on.  This is going to boil over, so when the lid starts rattling, open it by an inch or so.
  4. Put a large frying pan on a medium heat, fry the onions for about 5 minutes.
  5. Add the ham to the pan, continue to cook for another 5 minutes.
  6. Add double cream, stir in mustard, make sure everything’s thoroughly coated.
  7. Season to taste.
  8. Pasta should be ready now, so turn down the heat on the frying pan while you drain it.
  9. Add contents of frying pan to saucepan containing pasta, stir.
  10. Serve in bowls/on plates/large leaves/big scallop shells/whatever comes to hand.

And that’s the long and short of it!  My kids love this (hell, I love this.  Especially with a good grate of black pepper once it’s served), you’re done in under 15 minutes and there’s not a lot of washing up to do.

Next time I’m cooking this, I’ll bring this post up to the high standard @relucthousedad’s set with suitable photographs of the cooking in action and of children being told to look like you’re enjoying this or it’s an early bed and no supper.

Next week:  We test the chefs.  I’ll be finding out if you can do a Jamie Oliver 20 minute meal in 20 minutes.  There’s an app for that, you know.

3 responses to “#Cookalongfriday – Something for the weekend – Ham & Pasta”

  1. As the only non-meat eater (and chief cook & bottle washer) in an otherwise carnivourous household, I’ve become quite a dab-hand at adapting regular recipes to veggy-friendliness.
    This ham and pasta mix always goes down well, and it is really very easy to adapt by substituting the ham with a tasty veg of your choice. Options include:
    – mushrooms sauteed with a little garlic or caramelised onions;
    – asparagus (in season now);
    – courgettes, fresh broad beans and fresh mint for a lighter taste (leave out the mustard);
    – leeks and/or broccoli (extra good if you add a good grating of parmesan to the mix).

    Vegan options are trickier, expecially as I’m not a fan of meat- & dairy-substitutes. Fortunately, being the cheese freak I am, I’m not likely to be heading down Vegan Avenue any time soon!

    • Especially like the courgette, beans and mint idea! That’s one I’ll try this summer. If the purple sprouting broccoli does what it’s supposed to, I’ll try that as well. I know there are some superb vegetarian recipes out there, I’ve got some wonderful veg curries, it’s just that you don’t have an acceptable substitute for bacon. And I’ve never understood vegans – I worked with one once and the lengths he had to go to in order to avoid inadvertently eating something derived from meat! Wow. Wasn’t impressed when I pointed out that his shoes were leather.

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