I love a nice, fresh ham roast, with its addictive crackling skin and succulent, briny flavor. For some reason, ham seems mostly reserved for holidays and special occasions. Yet I could easily eat them more often. And I would, if the small size of my family could support the sheer size of such a meal without getting ham burnout. Since most fresh hams are usually far too big to eat in one sitting, even with guests, there are a ton of leftovers to deal with after the main meal (which probably accounts for why most of us don’t eat them more often).
When it comes to leftovers, I can often eat the same thing over and over without becoming too bored. This trait is especially useful when I’m having a particularly busy week, and the desire to create in the kitchen is overwhelmed by the desire to simply eat. Something. Anything.
However, every so often my creativity compels me to veer in a whole different direction than whatever meal I’d been planning. These fritters are the brainchild of one of those inspired moments. And boy, are they ever outstanding! As in one-of-my-favorite-inventions-of-all-time outstanding! The combination of the salty ham, sweet parsnip, and tangy kraut marries beautifully. And the fact that sauerkraut, one of the main components of this dish, is a probiotic, gut-healthy, cultured food doesn’t hurt either.
With Father’s Day fast approaching, I thought this might be the perfect recipe to share with you all. What a fantastic way to use up some of the leftover ham you might have from a Father’s Day brunch. But these fritters are also an ideal addition to a brunch menu on their own delicious merits.
Don’t want to cook a whole roast just for leftovers? Not to worry! Check to see if your supermarket butcher has a cooked ham hock or fresh cooked ham on-site. You can top these yummy, crispy fritters with a couple runny-yolked eggs, as I’ve done in the past. Or feel free to serve with mustard, sour cream, and shredded or crumbled cheese. These can be a great appetizer, buffet item, or side dish, or served on their own, accompanied by a nice, crisp salad.
Hands on time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Makes approximately 15 pool-ball-sized fritters
1 lb. leftover ham, torn into large shreds
1½ cups of your favorite sauerkraut, squeezed dry
1 heaping cup grated parsnip
4 green onions, finely chopped
1 small handful parsley, chopped
¾ teaspoon caraway seeds, lightly crushed
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoon German, grainy, or Dijon mustard
¼ cup breadcrumbs (rye, regular, gluten-free), or ground almonds to keep it grain-free
3 tablespoons heavy cream
Salt and pepper, to taste
Leftover ham drippings, bacon grease, lard, butter, or other fat of your choice, for cooking
- Shred ham into a large bowl. Add all remaining ingredients, except the ham drippings. Combine well, using a wooden spoon or your hands.
- Preheat oven to 200°F. Line a large baking sheet with paper towels.
- Heat a large, shallow pan over medium heat. Add a tablespoon of fat, Shape ham mixture into roughly 15 pool-ball-sized pieces, then flatten slightly, to about ½-inch thick.
- Fry fritters in hot pan until golden-brown on one side, being careful not to over-crowd them (I did 5 at a time). Slide a spatula under fritters and carefully flip over. Continue frying on the other side until golden-brown.
- Transfer in batches to the paper towel-lined baking sheet, then place in oven to keep warm. Wipe pan clean. Add some fresh fat and continue with next batch. Repeat until all ham mixture has been used up. Serve hot or at room temperature, with garnish of your choosing.
Images from Briana Goodall.