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Leftover Ham Is The Perfect Savory Addition To Cornbread

Spiral cut ham with vegetables in background
Spiral cut ham with vegetables in background - Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock

Serving a ham roast is a great way to get people talking (and make them hungry) at any gathering. Particularly around the holidays, many celebrations are anchored by a big, beautiful, glazed, and often spiral-cut chef-d'œuvre. And while it's always enjoyable looking forward to the moment this roast is carved, it's not uncommon to find yourself with a lot of leftovers when the feast is over.

Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to use up that remaining meat, particularly as the complex flavors and texture of ham — sweet, savory, salty, and tender — provide a complement and counterpoint to so many dishes. But there is one preparation that may not have crossed your mind when you're dreaming up porky reinventions. Next time you have a handful of ham hanging around, cube or shred it up and mix it into your favorite homemade cornbread recipe. These two elements work so well together as a balancing act that once you give it a try, you may decide this is the optimal way to enjoy your ham no matter the occasion.

Read more: 11 Things You Didn't Know You Should Be Doing With Bacon

Why This Combination Is Masterful

Cast iron with cornbread and butter in the background
Cast iron with cornbread and butter in the background - Candice Bell/Shutterstock

Cornbread is a staple in many households and cuisines for plenty of reasons. For one thing, it's simple. Typically, cornbread recipes call for ingredients you probably already keep on hand, like butter, eggs, maybe some flour, sugar, and a leavener of some kind. That means you can quickly and easily whip it up at the drop of a hat in almost no time. Then of course, there's the fact that it's delicious, and extremely versatile thanks to that simplicity. When done right, cornbread boasts a sweetness from the cornmeal and a crisp, golden crust with a tender, fluffy interior, bursting with the aroma of butter.

What cornbread could use a little more of, however, is a savory element. Enter ham, which is inherently salty and super savory. When you chop up chunks of ham and mix them into your cornbread batter, you're introducing umami in spades, plus some pleasant textural contrast in the chewy cubes. Additionally, by incorporating protein, you can consider this more substantial than simply a side dish, and serve accordingly as a substitute for a sandwich, or an appealing appetizer.

More Ways To Enhance Your Cornbread Creation

Cast iron skillet with cornbread and red peppers
Cast iron skillet with cornbread and red peppers - MShev/Shutterstock

Given that your ham and cornbread are complementary of one another, but also fairly neutral and accommodating of other flavors, you have a great opportunity to continue building upon this new combination. Peppers are the perfect pick for a spicy kick. Sprinkle some ancho chile powder into your batter for earthiness, or toss in slices of fresh jalapeños for a grassier hit of spice, then round the whole thing out with sharp, shredded cheddar or pepper jack cheese for even more heat. You can even top it off with a fried egg for an exceptional brunch dish.

It's never a bad idea to slather cornbread with butter, so take the opportunity to use a compound butter that brings extra flavor (herbs like rosemary, thyme, sage, or chives will all pair well, as would orange zest). You can also create a cornbread cousin with a cheesy corn casserole and sprinkle your leftover ham right into the mix. There are so many ways to customize this cornbread and ham combo, you may want to start planning to make too much on purpose.

Read the original article on Daily Meal