Christmas with my family is an ethnically ambiguous affair. Just like moi.
On Christmas Eve we roast a turkey, glaze a ham, make roast potatoes, cream greens, mix cranberry sauce, fight over mum's cornbread and chestnut stuffing and open presents at midnight sipping on Franciacorta and nibbling on panettone covered in zabaione cream (dad's pride and glory); we ignore the Italian tradition of having fish on 24th and mix up Italy with Panama with North America with England. Ethnically ambiguous, yeah?
Christmas day itself is started with a hefty brunch menu of strata, homemade granola, pastries and freshly squeezed orange juice (with prosecco); leftovers of ham and turkey are re-heated for a late lunch to be served alongside rice and peas and the tamales mum and dad painstakingly prepare and wrap in banana leaves two weeks earlier. And despite declaring to the world that we will not be having dinner after the first two meals of the day one by one we sneak to the kitchen and make ourselves turkey and stuffing sandwiches which we wash down with a warming glass of red wine as a night cap. Light, yeah?
But what happens when Boxing Day comes along and there is still ham and turkey looming about?
More sandwiches? Maybe. Turkey curry? Possibly. Turkey fried rice? Yes, yes.
And the ham? Baked ham and eggs, frittata, more sandwiches... It all so looks the same and I am Oh. So. Bored. So this year I will be suggesting we use up our ham for a big bowl of pasta with lentil and [leftover] baked ham ragu swimming in a deep tomato and red wine sauce that can ease us into the lead up to New Year's Eve (that, my friends, is a whole different tale of eating).
Lentil and [leftover] baked ham ragu
400gr pasta (penne or tagliatelle would be perfect)
1 cup (250ml) red wine
2 garlic cloves
500gr tomato passata
1/2 cup (100gr) puy lentils
300gr baked ham julienned
2tbsp roughly chopped rosemary
1 dried chili
1tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Pecorino cheese (optional)
Heat the olive oil in a large pot, add the garlic and chili and saute over a medium heat for a couple of minutes.
Add the lentils and mix to coat in the olive oil quickly.
Add the red wine and let it reduce slightly (about 1 minute)
Add the ham and passata.
Bring the sauce to a boil, reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for at least an hour adding a little water if the sauce reduces too much. If you can leave it to simmer for another 30-60 minutes then do as the more it stays on the stove the more the flavours will accentuate.
Once the sauce is ready cook the pasta to packet instructions and keep 4 tablespoons of the water it's cooked in.
Drain the pasta and pour it in the pan with the sauce, the rosemary, the water you kept and mix it all over a low heat.
Serve hot with a sprinkle of Pecorino if you feel so inclined.
Happy Holidays everyone!